The Many Faces of Addiction

The journey to healing and recovery

The Triggering Effect Part 6: Slippery People, Places, or Situations

Slippery people, places or situations

You need to identify specific triggers - the people, places, and situations that are high-risk. Slippery people could be your ex-lover, certain family members, or past using/party buddies. A slippery place might be a bar you used to frequent, a casino, or an area in your community where you cruised. In essence any place that triggers a positive association about the use of your drug of choice. Slippery situations could be an emotionally charged social gathering, such as a wedding, family event, or vacation.

Medication may be a trigger for which you need to be accountable. While there are situations where medication is needed, you are at high risk to abuse. You need to be proactive in how you are going to cope with this situation, because it is likely your brain is going to remember a good feeling, saying more is better. There is also a tendency to look for outside fixes too readily. Just because you are agitated doesn't mean you need a prescription pill. Just because your knee hurts, you don't need to take your sister's pain meds. Or if you have difficulty sleeping it doesn't automatically mean a sleeping pill is indicated. Again, there are situations where medications are necessary, but self-diagnosis and/or self-prescribing only create a recipe for disaster.

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What are the people, places or situations that are potential triggers?
What provides safety for you to not get triggered?
What triggers can you avoid?
For example, do you really need to be at this family event? Is it worth the risk? That is what you always need to ask yourself.

You don't need to test yourself, and you don't have to prove anything; this isn't a contest. If you can't avoid a certain place, can you lessen the contact or time? Meaning, you go to the family event, but you know you will leave early.

While some decisions around triggers are absolute, others are not necessary for your entire life. Know your triggers and make a plan accordingly.

In the face of a trigger, what do you need to do?

What do you need to tell yourself?

To whom can you reach out to for support and/or problem solving?

Today in recovery you have options:

  1. Practice staying in the present; don't sit in the past or project into the future.
  2. Validate the gifts of recovery for the day - practice gratitude daily.
  3. Identify, build and use a support system - you need to stay connected. History and experience have proven time and time again that recovery is not a solitary process and cannot be sustained in isolation.
  4. Trust your Higher Power is on your side.

 

Claudia Black, M.S.W., Ph.D., works in the fields of addiction, codependency, and recovery.

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