Triggers and Recovering Addicts

When you pull the trigger on a gun, it releases a bullet at a rapid speed that races until it runs into something that stops it. Trigger is, then, an appropriate word to describe what happens when someone who has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction is put into a situation where they find themselves tempted to relapse.

A person, place or thing can trigger a strong reaction in someone recovering from addiction. A trigger can pop up so fast that it becomes extremely difficult to stop and often challenging to deal with it. Triggers can also result in people relapsing and falling back into their old patterns, even when they have the aim of lifelong sobriety.

Not every individual will react to the same triggers. They vary based on the person’s background, their addiction struggles, and their emotional state. Regardless, just about every person who has struggled with alcohol or drugs has addiction triggers.

What Events Act as Triggers?

Triggers often hark back to a person’s life before sobriety. When they are around old friends or revisit places where they hung out when they were abusing alcohol or drugs, they are likely to encounter triggers. These triggers are often the reason they sank into addiction in the first place.

Highly emotional events are especially strong triggers. People struggling with addiction often ease their pain by drinking or using drugs, in an attempt to dull their feelings. Situational triggers may include:

  • A traumatic event, such as the death of a parent or loved one
  • The holiday season, full of strong emotions that can be confusing when navigating them soberly
  • Running into a friend, ex or drug dealer from the drug addiction days
  • Reminders of traumatic events that led to alcohol or drug abuse, such as a divorce or a sexual or physical assault

Triggers and Addicts

Beyond those environmental triggers, other things can trigger a relapse as well. For instance, a period of high stress may trigger a desire to drink or use drugs. Loud noises can also trigger stress responses and result in an urge for alcohol or drugs.

The important thing to understand about triggers is that they require vigilance. Triggers do not disappear after a certain amount of time has passed. You are not “cured” of your triggers when you have been sober for a year, five years or even 20 years. Even when decades have passed, triggers can still spark intense longing for old vices.


At Clarity Way, we understand the importance of treating the underlying causes of triggers, giving those struggling with addiction coping mechanisms to help them in these difficult situations. Contact us today to help you or a loved one.

(photo via)

Disclaimer: The person pictured above is a model and is used for illustrative purposes only.

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 in Blog

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