Know Your Addiction Triggers

Whether you are in addiction recovery or not, do you know your addiction triggers?  Are you an addict looking to regain control of your life? Have you hit a bottom? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Do you ever wonder what the possibilities might be for happiness and peace if you weren’t so addicted? It’s possible you know, it happens.  People overcome their addictions and get sober.  It can happen for you.


Addictions often start as casual habits.  As you continue to engage in a behavior or use a certain substance, you may in time develop a compulsion to continue the behavior.  These compulsions are often associated with specific stimuli.  They’re more or less something environmental, personal or social that acts as a queue to turn to substance abuse and addiction and eating disorders.  These stimuli are called triggers.


A trigger is any form of stimuli that initiates the desire to engage in addictive behavior.  It is important you understand and are consciously aware of what your triggers are.  You already know them well.  When you are in recovery a trigger is usually what compels you to slip up and use a substance or engage in a behavior you are trying to avoid.

Some Examples of Addiction Triggers

  • Daylight
  • Words
  • Movies
  • Dreams
  • Memories
  • Arguments
  • Work
  • People
  • Places
  • Anniversaries
  • Smells
  • Stress
  • Moods
  • Food flavors
  • Holidays


Along your pathway to recovery, it will be necessary to increase your self-awareness as you reduce your exposure to these triggers as much as possible.  For example, if you are addicted to alcohol you should be aware to stay out of bars.  If you’re a sugar addict you don’t want to go into bakeries. Bakeries and bars are examples of triggers.  If you are aware of your specific triggers, it will help change your thinking so you may behave in a way that will separate you from your specific addiction.


Avoiding triggers may require changing relationships, moving your residence or changing careers.  Addiction triggers prompt cravings, which are strong desires for a certain substance.  Learning how to identify triggers and developing strategies to manage cravings are core aspects of most addiction recovery programs.

Types of Addiction Triggers

Environmental Triggers:  This is the easiest to identify.  Stay out of all physical places which you know for whatever reason will stimulate addictive behavior


Social Triggers:  Who you hang around with and don’t hang around with is critically important.  Avoid previous using buddies and find new sober relationships.  Stay away from parties where you know there will be substance abuse. Be careful trying to hide your addiction because you feel embarrassed.  Be sure to make your sobriety crystal clear to anyone around you who may be encouraging or enabling you to have a drink, take a hit, snort a line etc.  If they really have a problem with that, you really need to find new friends.


Emotional Triggers:  Emotional and mental health concerns will trigger substance abuse and so managing triggers will require you to be aware of your personal and present emotional state.  Some emotional states to be aware of include anger, loneliness, anxiety, fatigue, depression, frustration, etc.


Once you identify your triggers, create a plan to cope with exposure to them.  Know that putting yourself in a certain place or situation may leave you vulnerable.  This plan may include calling someone in your support network, removing yourself from a stressful situation or finding a nearby 12 step meeting.


Eventually, what was a strong trigger may become less of a trigger.  Sometimes new triggers arise. Other times, old triggers dissipate.  Whichever the case, and no matter how far down the road you’ve gone in recovery, self-knowledge an essential component to long-term sobriety.  Know your addiction triggers.  When you need help for yourself or a loved one, reach out to Get Real Recovery.


-Barry Diamond Writer/Comedian/Actor

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