As you step back out into the world for the first time since leaving treatment, optimism slightly fades when you realize your work is cut out for you. Fortunately, with discipline and some planning, it is possible to maintain sobriety with positivity and confidence. Here are some tips and tricks to stay sober and break bad habits.
Simply put, a trigger is anything that creates the urge to use. It can a person, place, or memory; it can also be a sight, a smell or even a taste. When a trigger happens to a person in recovery it is a red flag to be aware and cautious because one wrong step could lead to relapse.
Triggers that are primarily “emotional” can occur as the result of a negative thought or a memory. It could be a feeling of past regret or revisiting a highly traumatic experience. Even a pleasant memory could weaken your resolve to stay sober.
Environmental triggers occur when you are out and about. In addiction treatment, you develop self-control and boundaries so that when you are in a social setting you can prevent situations from getting out of hand. Yet you may find yourself walking by an old bar or are invited to place that surprisingly serves drinks– and suddenly you are in a dangerous situation.
By identifying triggers, you can avoid them and the pitfalls they create. Though this is not always possible, developing a system that will help you disengage from them can be a safe option when all else fails.
Here are some tips on how to safely confront a trigger:
- Find a Supportive Friend
- Call your Sponsor
- Go For a Walk
- Mentally Detach from the Trigger
- Do Something Creative
- Focus on Someone Else
- Write Down What You are Feeling
Have an Exit Plan
An exit plan is a three-step approach for preventing relapse in a triggering situation. They can be tailored fit person’s individual needs, or they can follow a basic three-step template like this.
1. Get Away from the Situation
Identify what the trigger is and remove yourself from it. If you find yourself needing to duck out early from an event, consider driving separately: that way you don’t have to rely on anybody else and leave when you need to.
2. Ask for Help
In a dire situation where potential relapse is possible you can always call your sponsor or a trusted friend from your recovery network. Many people living a sober lifestyle have had to rely on others in one desperate situation or another. Chances are you won’t be able to avoid asking for help either – so don’t sweat it. Being mutually available for others is the glue that holds a strong sober network together.
3. Go Somewhere Safe
Many people in a compromised situation choose to seek out a support meeting so that they can talk out their situation in an environment with others that are accepting and understanding. If this isn’t possible, a sober friendly environment such as a trusted friend’s house can be a great place to wait out the storm. Try to avoid being alone if you can and look for a healthy social environment.
Attend Individual and Group Counseling
Counseling allows individuals to share feelings and thoughts which can help them reach a state of closure and clarity. They also develop the skills to identify personal barriers to recovery such as: maintaining restrictive attitudes or holding on to toxic relationships or ideas or self-isolating.
As key areas of focus are locked-in, counselors and your recovery groups can help with overcoming these challenges.
Develop Healthy Habits and Routines
Habits good or bad, help us get through life. Since the world can be demanding and stressful, we often look to momentary gratification as a way of coping with what we are avoiding. As humans we instinctually desire stability but choosing comfort over safety is an error in judgment. An error that can fool us into thinking that substance abuse is an acceptable means of escape.
Addiction is itself a bad habit, but it also breaks resolve; further leading to toxic habits and a toxic lifestyle. Developing a set of healthy behaviors and routines to offset the urge to use can help build confidence and support a sober mindset. Here is an example of a routine that does just that.
“In the past I have found myself needing several drinks before going to bed: Now, I go for a 1-mile jog before bed. It helps me get rid of the nervous energy and allows me to fall asleep easier.”
Be Accountable to Yourself and Others
Committing to staying sober is not something to be taken lightly. In recovery, some days may be easy, but others will be extremely hard.
Those beginning their journey and have struggled with addiction for some time may find it hard to commit to recovery whole-heartedly. And this makes sense. When you are so close to the starting line it can be easy to think that you have nothing to lose by giving in to temptation.
If you are struggling to be accountable to yourself, focus instead on being accountable to others. If it isn’t your family or friends, then it can be your sponsor or somebody you meet in group. When these faith shaking days arise, you will need all the resolve you can get.
Many individuals who enroll in inpatient or residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction will still require some level of extra support. Here at Comfort Recovery, we have several treatment options available for individuals in the greater Los Angeles area including:
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment [IOP]
- Traditional Outpatient Treatment
- Outpatient Detoxification
- Partial Hospitalization
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse; don’t wait. Contact us now at 877-468-0857 to learn about several treatments and recovery resources available to you.