The term drug is used to describe all mood-altering substances including alcohol and other sedative-hypnotics, opioids, stimulants and psychedelic drugs.
Thinking and talking about cravings for alcohol and other drugs can make some people crave them more. However, thinking and dreaming about alcohol and other drugs is a natural part of recovery. Learning how to stop these thoughts and turning them into cravings can help prevent a person from resuming use. Education about substance use is important. Learning how resume of use occurs, how to prevent it and identify signs that lead up to it, can prevent returning back to using.
People, places and things are connected to the use of alcohol or other drugs. These are known as triggers! Triggers are feelings and experiences tied to people, places and things that are associated with drinking or drug use.
To help identify your triggers, write a list of:
Internal, external and sensory triggers combined usually work together to create a drug craving. Internal triggers are feelings people have before or during drinking or using drugs (angry, lonely, depressed, sad, bored, etc.). External triggers are people, places and things associated with drinking or using drugs (old neighborhood, holidays or people one used to use with). Sensory triggers are related to sight, sound, taste and touch (certain songs, certain foods or drinks). Now, to help identify your internal, external and sensory triggers, name and describe them on paper or in a journal.
The steps in dealing with triggers start with identifying, avoiding, interrupting and talking about them. Once you identify what your triggers are, start avoiding them. For triggers that cannot be avoided, interrupt them by keeping yourself occupied, attending a self-help meeting, spending time with clean and sober friends or family, etc.
Planning ahead is the key to avoiding falling back into old habits and routines. Lastly, talk about it! Don't keep silent as this could allow your cravings time to build up and potentially lead to resume of use. Talking about triggers in a self-help meeting or therapy session can weaken the power of triggers.
To help manage your triggers, write and list:
This process can be occurring in your brain without realizing how powerful it is. Developing skills and tools in recovery is vital as sobriety. It's an ongoing process. Therapy and self-help meetings can help you develop a new set of important skills that will help with stopping triggers from leading to relapse.
Things are finally starting to open up again. Most people are getting vaccinated and the onset of the pandemic is growing faster behind us. So many of the face-to-face services that went virtual will remain. Therapy will be one of those of services. The pandemic showed us how much of our tasks can be done online without having to physically be in a building or office.
I always offered teletherapy, but as you can imagine with the pandemic, the amount of clients that chose teletherapy soared. I was very happy to see that my clients didn't allow the pandemic to stop them from taking care of their mental health needs. As you prepare for a post-covid world around you by getting back out there again, face-to-face, think about the things you can continue to do from the comfort of your own home. Therapy is definitely one of them!
If you've never experienced online therapy, here are 5 reasons why it's amazing!
There are a host of online therapy sites to help you choose the right therapist for you (Open Path Collective, Therapy for Black Girls, and My Tru Circle to name a few) taking away the stress of where to look for therapist that provide online sessions.
The one con to online therapy is that, if you're in a crisis situation, online therapy isn't the best option for you. Online therapists are at a distance making it difficult for them to respond fast enough. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or text "NAMI" to 741741. If it's an emergency, call 911 or going to your nearest crisis center is best.
Online therapy isn't for everyone. Some people prefer the face-to-face session and that's totally fine! As long as you are getting the help you need, the delivery method doesn't matter. Only you can decide if online therapy works best for you and your situation.