Unfortunately, addiction is a lifelong battle, and although it’s possible to beat the habit and get yourself clean and into a better state of mind, there will always be a part of you that is susceptible to drugs. This is why it’s so very important to keep yourself away from the little things in your life that make cravings and temptations all the more intense. People, places, and activities that give you the urge to use are called triggers, because they trigger a place in your brain based on past experiences that will make you want to indulge in things that you’re to avoid. Keeping clear of these triggers can be easier said than done because you might not realize just how many are there in your life. Over time, you will find yourself becoming stronger, and some of your triggers may no longer give you any longing to try things that you shouldn’t, but until then, steer clear of certain haunts and friends. For a few examples of things that might cause a relapse and how to cope with them, read on below.
Steer Clear Of Bars
The worst place to find yourself when you’re newly clean and attempting to stay sober is a bar, pub, or night club. Even if you’ve never had a problem with alcohol, and drugs was the reason that you found yourself seeking treatment, these sorts of venues will not help you with sobriety. A few drinks can lead to some very poor decisions, or could make alcohol seem like the answer to your addiction. Replacing one addiction with another could cause you to relapse, not to mention what this new obsession will do to your body and life. Help Guide advises:
Avoid bars and clubs, even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol. Drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to relapse.
Bars are also a frequent haunting ground for other people who use, and they’ll drink for similar reasons, not understanding the consequences. This means you could find yourself running into people who are carrying drugs, and might even offer you some. Even if your willpower has become much stronger, dealing with this sort of temptation can be tricky. It’s much better not to risk it, and to spend your time in a safer environment where you can stay in control.
Stop Communication With Friends Who Use
It can be sad to say goodbye to people that you’re close with during this time, but once you’ve gotten yourself clean and are on the right track in life, hanging around with people who still abuse drugs could lead you right back down that path of poor judgment. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never be friends again, just that in this moment you’re in a vulnerable state and need to associate with positive people who support you and can help you feel good without offering you temptation. In the future, if friends do manage to become sober then there’s no reason why you can’t communicate with them, but hanging out with addicts should be a thing of your past.
Practice Your Avoidance
A good way to get through those particularly difficult triggers in life is to practice in the safety of your own home. Find a mirror and sit in a comfortable space where you can see yourself and tell yourself exactly what you’re going to do if you’re put into a situation where triggers are present. Write it down, act it out, or run through some dialogue in your mind. Having a real game plan can help you get much further when this rough time hits than just hoping for the best in the moment. Psychcentral.com writes:
Role play, even just with yourself in the mirror, what you will do when you feel like using again. You may save yourself from a rough day, a temporary lapse, or a full relapse back to substance abuse.
If you’ve got a supportive friend or family member who’s willing to play along, get them to role play a few scenarios with you. This can also help you get some good ideas on dialogue and actions that you can use if you wind up in a situation with triggers present and you’re not sure what to do.
Be Cautious Of Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs can be a necessity, but they’re also a pitfall when it comes to addiction triggers. Depending on what the drug is, you might want to get help from a roommate or family member on moderating these drugs for you. This can seem embarrassing, but you might not always need this kind of hands on assistance. In time you can overcome certain types of urges and may feel absolutely fine administering your own medication in the correct doses without any need whatsoever to consider more than what the doctor has ordered. Of course, your doctor should know what you’ve been through so that they understand which medicines you should and shouldn’t have, but in the end you’re still the one who has to make a conscious choice not to over medicate.
Turn Your Trigger Around
Finally, one of the newer methods of dealing with triggers after addiction is to reverse them so that instead of triggering temptation when you see, hear, or smell something, you trigger disgust for the object, person, or place. Think about all the negative aspects of the drug, how it felt to wake up the next morning after it’s worn off and the sickness it might have caused you. Every time you see one of your triggers, bring to mind a memory of something terrible that happened. EnterHealth.com states:
By charting out those people, places and things that trigger cravings all the way through to their often negative consequence, you can train your brain to associate the resulting pain with the initiating situation and be better equipped to avoid the behavior.
Over time, this new found distaste for the triggers will make you feel far less attracted to past behaviors, and may not give you any longing for what you’ve given up at all.