Trigger and Urges: how can we best deal with them?
The urge is the sudden desire to pick up a drink or a drug.
A trigger is a person, place, thing, event, or emotion that causes someone to have an urge.
There are 2 viable strategies here: the first is what we will call traditional wisdom. This includes all of the various coping devices that people employ in order to stop themselves from using drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Examples of these coping mechanisms might be:
1) Picking up the phone and calling someone from your support system or the fellowship
2) Avoiding the old people, places, and things that trigger you
3) Calling your sponsor
4) Using either prayer or meditation
5) Using one of the “tools of the program”
6) Going to an AA meeting
These are not bad suggestions. They have traditionally been passed along in AA and other fellowships as suggestions for dealing with triggers and urges.
But how well do they really work for dealing with triggers and urges? Considering the dismal relapse rates of recovery, perhaps we should examine a different strategy for dealing with the random triggers and urges that will inevitably come our way. The ideas listed above are all tactics. They are reactions to situations that we are suddenly faced with.
Now ask yourself these 2 questions:
* What if you could prevent the situation from occurring altogether?
* What if you had a built-in safety net, already in place, to help you with any situations that do happen to occur?
The strategies below allow you to do both of those things. They are extremely powerful because they can help to prevent urges before they start, and also eliminate most–if not all–of the typical triggers you might encounter.
Note that these strategies actually worked for me, and have guided me through to seven solid years of sobriety:
Strategy #1 – Immerse Yourself in Support
Sever all of your unhealthy associations. Surround yourself with new friends in recovery. If necessary, attend several meetings daily. This creates a huge safety net and support system.
Strategy #2 – Long Term Treatment
Live in a facility with other recovering addicts and alcoholics. This creates a huge safety net and encourages accountability.
Strategy #3 – Spiritual Experience – Transform Your Personality
Start helping others as soon as possible and connect with a higher power. Cultivate gratitude. This breaks the old thought patterns and will diminish the tendency to have random urges.
Dealing with triggers and urges is important, but what happens when we get stuck in our recovery? Sometimes we run out of steam when we really should be pushing ourselves forward. Next week I’ll be posting a complete guide to fighting complacency in recovery.
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