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Trigger Warning: Developing An Understanding Of Your Triggers

The word “trigger” and the use of the phrase “trigger warning” has become more prominent in mainstream culture today as society becomes increasingly aware of trauma and mental health. Trauma can be associated with any kind of traumatic event which feels out of someone’s control. Addiction, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, mood disorders, psychiatric disorders- almost all mental health conditions end up being rooted in the experience of some kind of trauma in someone’s life. Trigger warnings are used to let a mass audience know that a particularly difficult subject is going to be discussed openly. Commonly, topics like rape, sexual abuse, violence, drug and alcohol use are triggers for those who are recovering. Talk of suicide, loss, and violence can be triggering too. There are many shared triggers. Each individual has their own set of triggers as well. Developing an understanding of your triggers is part of developing a relapse prevention plan. Relapse prevention is the set of tools, actions, and practices to prevent yourself from reacting to any kind of situation with default behaviors- primarily engaging in the harmful use of drugs and alcohol. Triggers are not uncontrollable and you are not left weak or victimized in their wake. The first step to overcoming triggers and learning how to manage them is understanding them.

Pay Attention When You Feel Stimulated By Something

You might not yet recognize what feeling “triggered” is like. If you are in recovery from drugs and alcohol, it’s a very simply situation. Feeling triggered is any moment when your immediate reaction is: I want to use. I want to get high. During the early recovery months that can happen a hundred times a day from no hot water in the shower to hearing an especially mean comment. Drugs and alcohol become the habitual behavioral default for coping with difficult and uncomfortable situations. Keep a journal for a week to notice each time you feel inspired to drink or use. At the end of each day, look at the triggers and see if there is a common theme.

Start Looking For The Theme

Noticing the different situations which are triggering, you’ll notice commonalities between them. This is the situation of the trigger, or situational trigger. It might be something like feeling out of control, fear of being abandoned, not having your needs met, being bullied, perceiving someone’s judgments as negative. You might find you make a jerk reaction assumption about all of these moments. As someone in the beginning phases of recovery, and as any human beginning to do this work, that is exactly what you are supposed to do . Overtime, you’ll learn to pause, reflect, then choose how you want to respond. You will not feel triggered by everything forever, that is a promise of recovery. It gets better.

Transformative healing can take place during a few months of recovery. Enlightened Solutions provides recovery for mind, body, and spirit with our integrative partial care programs for men and women. For more information, call 833-801-5483.

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