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Should You Avoid or Embrace Triggers?

As you go through treatment and throughout your recovery, you hear a lot about triggers. There are a variety of triggers that each person can have, and it’s different for everyone. One of the biggest pieces of advice that’s given to newcomers is to avoid triggers at all costs. But is this the most effective way to manage your sobriety? It’s important to understand human psychology to better understand avoidance strategies so you can better understand when to avoid or embrace triggers. 

What are Triggers?

Humans are habit-making machines. In order to be more efficient, our brain pairs sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, and emotions with certain behaviors. If you’re hungry, you eat, and if you’re thirsty, you drink. Hunger and thirst are triggers, so without thinking, you know what to do to survive. Unfortunately, in active addiction, we train our brain to associate drinking or using drugs with various thoughts, emotions, sights, sounds and more. 

The Problem with Avoiding Triggers

Although it’s beneficial to avoid specific triggers (which we’ll touch on next), sometimes, it’s far better to embrace your triggers. The reality is that once you get sober, life is still going to happen, and you didn’t get sober to live in a cage. The only way to completely eradicate all of your triggers would to not only isolate, but it’d also involve stopping your thoughts and emotions as well. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stress, depression, fear, anger and much more. 

When you get sober, you’ve gained a new freedom, and you have a lot of opportunities in front of you. Imagine if you avoided stress as a trigger. Would you be able to work? Probably not. This is why one of the best strategies is to learn healthy coping skills through therapy and 12-step programs about how to manage triggers rather than avoiding them. In fact, one of the other issues is that when you avoid triggers, you’re training your brain to react even more to those triggers because it believes these triggers are dangerous. As you continue to confront your triggers and practice healthy coping skills like going to meetings, calling a sponsor, doing yoga, meditating or other healthy activities, you become more resilient. 

When to Avoid Triggers

Confronting certain triggers head-on is helpful, but it’s important to find balance. Life is going to throw triggers at you regardless of if you try to avoid them or not, so you shouldn’t make it more difficult on yourself. Minimize your triggers by avoiding certain situations and behaviors such as not going to the bar or houses of friends who you used to use with. Your brain has been conditioned to drink and use in certain situations, so if you keep putting yourself in reckless situations, eventually willpower will fail you. 

If you’re struggling with addiction and looking for a better way to recover, allow Enlightened Solutions to help. We’re a detox center that will also teach you how to deal with triggers in a healthy way so you can live the life of freedom and happiness that you deserve. For more information, call us today at 833-233-7336.

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