Things that trigger addicts to relapse have to be identified to keep us sober. Triggers are situations, places, people and emotions that cause us to think about taking a drink or a drug. An obvious trigger would be going to a bar for the alcoholic. The death of a loved one or divorce certainly can trigger us as well. However, there are more subtle ones that can take us down just as fast.
Money or rather the lack of it is one of my biggest triggers. Even discussing money with my husband can make me want to pop a pill just to begin to talk it. Christmas is another trigger for me. I grew up with an alcoholic father who ruined every Christmas with his drinking. Now I dread Christmas and if I could drink my way through it, I would. My father died in December about 10 years ago, so December is a nerve wracking month for me filled with constant triggers.
Negative emotions such as boredom, resentment, anger, anxiety and depression are triggers. Alcoholics and addicts do not do well with emotions. We want to feel good all the time. I have to walk myself through negative emotions just to stay sober. I have to use all the tricks I learned in Alcoholics Anonymous such as “playing the tape out” I had a wonderful sponsor years ago who suggested I think about the journey of taking a drink and where it would lead. It always leads to my downfall.
It would be beneficial to make a list of things that trigger us and add to it as we go along. When a negative situation or emotion hits us we can learn to sit with it until it passes. It can be uncomfortable; however going back to the drink or drug would be far worse. When bad things have happened to me one of the things I say is “I don’t know what to do with how bad I feel”. This is a typical emotion for the alcoholic or addict. Learning to sit with it until it passes is a lesson that we have to learn.