Triggers and Cravings
Triggers create cravings, those situations, people and things which can cause you, consciously or unconsciously, to think about a drink or drug. Just as a song can bring back strong memories, so can specific situations, people and things. However, for most long term addicts, our triggers are much deeper than just memories. They are deeply embedded in the mind. We have trained ourselves to automatically drink or drug when certain things happen or we are in a particular situation or we hang around with certain people.
Triggers and cravings are a normal part of early recovery, and everyone in recovery experiences them. You’re going to get them so you need to learn to deal with them to make your recovery easier. A detox will address the physical craving to ‘use’ so it is the mental side we have to address. We have to un-train these associations.
You will already know many of your own triggers, but at the same time you will have some that you are unaware of – those that are deeply embedded within your mind and automatically linked to certain ‘things’ with drinking and taking drugs, whether or not it’s done intentionally. It is only by not using when we are triggered that our minds become re-programmed.
Your mind is its own worst enemy. Not only do we have deep embedded triggers but we have also built an internal FEAR of dealing with them, instead, choosing to drink or drug when they appear. When we start on the road to recovery we tend to think that triggers and cravings are ‘bad’. When we think like this, we become frightened of them. Because we fear them, we actually make them seem stronger and in turn more likely to bring them on.
It is the fear of the cravings, not the cravings themselves that make dealing with them so difficult.
For many, waking up in the morning and actually inviting triggers into their day works for them. By doing this, you are alleviating the fear, and therefore the trigger will be less powerful.
Remember triggers and cravings are a natural part of the recovery process. By recognising and dealing with your triggers (no matter how big or small) it is a sign you are getting well.
Having spent so much time abusing your own body through drink or drugs your physical wellbeing will help you to deal with triggers and cravings. Eating healthy meals, exercising, sleeping well, visiting the doctor and dentist are all ways to help you along the road of recovery.
TALK! – Talking is one of the most powerful things you have in your recovery ‘toolbox’. Talk to others about your cravings and triggers, talk through the situations, people and things that you have encountered up to your most recent trigger. Work out what has caused that trigger but don’t ‘use’. Remember you have a choice, you no longer have to just react, you can look at them for what they are and remember what using will lead to. If nobody is available to talk to, talk to yourself! Let’s face it; we have probably all had a good conversation with ourselves whilst under the influence, so why not have a meaningful one now?