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How to Deal with Addiction Triggers

In 2016, less than half of people who suffer from co-occurring mental and substance use disorders received specialized treatment. Almost 8% of Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, what is commonly referred to as addiction, and over 18% of adults have a mental illness. With millions of young people and adults needing treatment or living sober after treatment, dealing with triggers of all kinds is a necessary part in turning your life around.

Being able to identify what is triggering you, what emotions you’re feeling, and what kind of coping mechanisms you can use to deal with your triggers are important steps to avoiding relapse. While relapse does happen, relapse does not have to be part of your story.

Here are our tips for dealing with addiction triggers so that you can keep growing stronger in your recovery, whether you’re in a specialized treatment facility, a sober living, or just beginning.

Identify HALT

Are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? These emotions and feelings contribute to our overall mood. If you are experiencing a strong desire to use, ask yourself these four questions. If you aren’t sure, it won’t hurt to have a snack, let yourself relax and take a nap, and find activities that help you calm down whether it’s a bath, meditating, praying, or something else.

Go to a Meeting

Remember, addictions to drugs and alcohol are often symptoms of how we deal with life and cope with our emotions. Loneliness can make you feel intensely bored. You can go to an AA or NA meeting. At meetings, you can meet other people who are choosing a sober, positive life over addiction. They are also places where you can feel useful, helpful, and part of something bigger than yourself.

Call a Friend in Recovery

Calling a friend and asking for help in identifying if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired can be extremely helpful. Who knows, they may be having a worse day than you, and this is your chance to help them while helping yourself. Pick up that phone, even if it feels like it weighs 100 lbs!

Enjoy Feeling Good!

Some days are better than others, and recovery feels as natural and easy. Sometimes these are referred to as “pink clouds,” but life without drugs should be enjoyed. So enjoy those moments, days, and weeks. You deserve it.

But don’t stop working on developing your coping skills. There are tons of examples of people relapsing because they felt good and thought, “I don’t need to be sober anymore, everything is great!” Enjoy the good days, but keep working on yourself!

Practice Deep Breathing

However, some days are especially tricky, sometimes for no apparent reason and sometimes for obvious reasons like troubles with relationships, medical issues, lingering legal problems, and mental illness. Whether you’re having your best day ever or your worst, you can stay sober through all of it. Learning how to live sober is an important step that can lead to a long and happy life in recovery.

Often, these problems can’t be solved in a day, let alone at that moment. Take some deep belly breathing. This won’t solve your issues, but by taking a few moments to notice your breath, you can take a moment to organize your thoughts and realize that you are okay. There is also a lot of evidence that shows that belly breathing physically relaxes you, activating the “relaxation reaction.”

Physical Exercise and Sports

For an addict or alcoholic, living without using drugs or drinking alcohol can be frustrating, irritating, and uncomfortable. It’s common for people new to recovery to feel like they may never have fun again, and life can feel dull and boring at first. Part of what makes living sober difficult at first is that feelings such as excitement and boredom can both be triggers.

While living with an addiction, it is common for people to stop playing sports or doing hobbies that they used to love. Allowing yourself to have fun, exercise, and start doing the things that used to make you happy are essential in living sober. Exercise, no matter what kind, has been proven time and time again to decrease depression, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood.

In Conclusion

These tips for dealing with addition triggers are just a beginning. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do these perfectly. The willingness to continually improve and practice living a different way is what matters.

If you are finding it particularly difficult to deal with your triggers, Boardwalk Recovery offers treatment services and therapies that are expertly designed to help addicts and alcoholics not only get sober but more importantly, live meaningful and fulfilling lives without the obsession to drink or use. This way of living takes practice, and we are willing leaders and guides to help show you the way to living the best life you haven’t even been able to dream of yet.

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