Identifying Triggers in Recovery

What Is a Trigger?

A trigger is something that causes an event or incident to occur. In recovery, triggers are often referred to as certain feelings, emotions, events, or people that might cause a recovering addict to be tempted to use. Hearing an old song, smelling a familiar scent, or seeing something that reminds you of your past life in addiction could all act as a trigger. Identifying your triggers and knowing how to manage them when they come up is crucial to fighting off the cravings and temptation to use them. Creating your own coping strategy is essential in early recovery, as it can be difficult to work up the strength to resist these triggers on your own.

Common Relapse Triggers

In addiction recovery, it is common to experience internal and external triggers daily. Some of these triggers may include:

  • Reminders of past trauma(s)
  • Negative emotions (sadness, guilt, frustration, anger, etc.)
  • Loneliness
  • Sounds or smells
  • Places
  • Pictures, videos, or songs
  • Fatigue
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Mental or physical illness
  • Unhealthy or toxic relationships
  • Romantic relationships
  • Social gatherings

Each of these triggers has the power to evoke the temptation to have a drink or a hit to ease the feelings you’re experiencing. An unhealthy state of mind puts you in a vulnerable place, leaving room for compromise and poor choices. It’s imperative that when you experience these triggers, you have a healthy method to fight them off as well as an encouraging support system.

How to Cope with Addiction Triggers

Oftentimes, recovering addicts might believe they have the self-control to participate in non-sober gatherings and maybe even take one drink—especially in early recovery. This is not always the case and could potentially lead to relapse. There will be a time when you might find yourself disciplined enough to be in a non-sober environment. However, you must give yourself ample time to recover and heal before you do.

1. Create Your Own Strategy

Creating a coping strategy might seem difficult at first, and may take a few times to find what works for you. How you cope is tailored to your own experience and personal needs, which is why it won’t always look like everyone else’s method—and that’s okay. Establishing a method to use when triggers arise will benefit and equip you for future instances.

 A simple coping method could be:

  1. Identifying what the trigger is and why it is triggering you
  2. Practicing self-reassurance to avoid compromise
  3. Removing yourself from the situation and dispensing any negative thoughts

Keep trying different methods until you find the one that works for you.

2. Get Involved in Sober Communities and Support Groups

Surrounding yourself with people who are on a similar journey is one of the most beneficial courses of action to keep you accountable in early recovery. Sober-friendly gatherings and support groups are great for recovering addicts to socialize in a safe and reliable environment. Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are 12-step programs that promote sobriety and fellowship through meetings at no expense.

Every individual in the sober community is trying their best to achieve and sustain a life of sobriety just as you are. Healthy relationships will challenge you to do better and encourage you to thrive and prosper, all the while helping you cope with your triggers.

3. Prioritize Self-Care

Studies show that practicing and prioritizing self-care is guaranteed to reduce anxiety and stress levels and boost serotonin levels. Hearing that you should practice self-care may seem redundant. However, it’s reiterated because of how fundamental and beneficial it is to your overall health and well-being.

Self-care is:

  • Prioritizing what your mind, body, and soul need to be happy and healthy
  • Attending a weekly or monthly one-on-one therapy session to discuss your progress and potential setbacks
  • Spending time by yourself to reset and recharge
  • Spending time with people that bring out the best version of you
  • Creating a personalized schedule to keep your life sane and organized
  • Exploring hobbies and activities that you enjoy

Self-care is simply taking care of yourself—whatever that might look like for you. Everyone’s self-care practices and routines look different, as we all have different interests and needs. When you implement self-care into your life, it can help to manage those unwanted, negative thoughts and feelings. When you start to feel triggered, something as simple as going for a walk, taking a hot shower, or calling a friend could be your means of coping.

4. Create a Routine for Yourself

According to Northwestern Medicine, people who don’t have a routine often suffer from stress, poor sleep, poor eating, poor physical condition, and ineffective use of time. While the benefits of a daily routine may include better stress levels, better sleep, and better health.

Having a consistent routine doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same things simultaneously every day. A routine is when your priorities are aligned and in place on your daily schedule. Your routine could include some form of daily exercise—working out, doing yoga, or going for a walk or run. A daily routine represents and reflects who you are as an individual. Taking care of your mental and physical wellness can look like spending a few minutes saying positive affirmations, cooking a healthy meal, reading or journaling for 10-15 minutes, or taking time to relax and unwind at the end of your day.

Triggers don’t have to overcome our internal or external being. Learning how to manage and cope with addiction triggers is a common shared experience in recovery that you’re not alone in. As you find a coping method that works for you and continue to prioritize your healing and overall well-being, this is going to facilitate your success in long-term sobriety.


Connor Barton
Connor Barton
The staff here is amazing. Caring and attentive. I finally kicked the sticks and couldn’t be happier.
Jacob Rashid
Jacob Rashid
So nice to have Grandma back to her old self. She has struggled with xannies for as long as I can remember. The staff were so attentive and met her where she was, not where they wanted her to be. Thank you Coastal Detox!
Tara Payne
Tara Payne
I struggled with alcohol addiction for most of my life. After many tries nothing worked.It was my 43rd birthday and I wasn't gonna see 44 if I didn't get help. I called around and found Coastal. So glad I did. I am so grateful for EVERYONE there. This beautiful facility is not just a detox. They actually have programs to help you learn to live a sober life and enjoy being yourself again! Entire staff is awesome! (Ms Diana ❤️ and Mrs Karen ❤️)They really understand how your feeling as most are in recovery also. If your looking for some help please give them a call. I give them 10+stars. Five months sober now!!! Thank you Coastal!!!
Bob Hawkins
Bob Hawkins
The entire staff of Coastal is great, the therapists, the nurses, the techs, everyone. It’s a great environment to begin your recovery in. As an added perk, the food is some of the best you’ll ever have thanks to the chefs.
Tony Givens
Tony Givens
My experience at coastal detox was very good, the staff there is terrific. They helped me get through the process of detox in a safe and professional manor.
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
Jodi Silverman Goldberg
It been almost a year!! Thank y’all
Matthew Mcnulty
Matthew Mcnulty
This is the top tier Rehab/Detox center in Southeast FL. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Their attention to detail is impressive. They specialize in treating alcohol abuse among several other conditions. If you or a loved one are looking for a blueprint on how to sober up…Coastal Detox will lead you there.
Mary Katz
Mary Katz
My experience with Coastal has been one of empathy, kindness and family. From Admissions to Nurses to techs I have never felt so cared for. Food and drink 24/7. Coastal is a place I went twice. First time 14 days next 6days later for another 11. At 59 and umpteen detoxes Coastal by far is Heaven Sent! As a Nutritionist and Trainer, I'm so happy to be back....the Mary ,who was lost:)
vicky ehr
vicky ehr
Great place . Helped me so much I am a 64 year old woman and this place got me sober with dignity and kindness. I highly recommend it plus the food is incredible. Rooms are really well laid out. 2 guys to a room . Each bed has its own t.v with head sets so you dont bother your roomate. Take an extra pillow and comfort blanket from home. At least 3 pairs of pj’ s sock and shoes and comfortable clothing fit. You do your own laundry there. I will send you the link to look at. After thinking all morning this is hands down the place for you. Lots of young people and fantastic therapists. For my wonderful son who suffers. From addiction the way I do.

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