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.