Triggers are powerful enemies in your recovery from addiction. Left unchecked and without the right coping mechanisms, triggers can cause you to slide back into relapse behaviors and even go back to your old path of addiction.
Once you get on the path of recovery, you are faced with a whole new set of challenges. From your lifestyle of dodging trouble and the consequences of your alcohol, drug, or behavioral addiction, you now have to commit to sobriety, and this can be a very interesting journey.
As your days of being sober stretch to weeks and months, you’ll realize that in between days when you think all things are doing great and you’re feeling great, there will be those little slips of time when you feel like you’re hanging onto your sobriety by the most paper-thin of threads.
There’s the total uncertainty your new lifestyle brings, and there’s the pull of triggers coming at you at all angles. A trigger, although small and often unnoticed for others, can be a huge enemy to deal with for a recovering addict. A trigger can be anything: a place, person, situation, or event that can make your mind automatically take you back to your active addiction.
As a recovering addict, these triggers are your number one enemy, and in order for you to move along more smoothly in your recovery journey, you have to have a good understanding of the most common triggers, as well as your very own personal set of triggers.
Understanding Triggers in Addiction Recovery
HALT stands for the most powerful states of being and the most common triggers for sliding back into relapse behaviors.
HALT stands for the following:
Hunger. Hunger affects both the mind and the body. Underneath hunger are often other feelings such as boredom, tiredness, anxiety and stress. You have to learn to understand how your body responds to hunger so you can better manage your attitude and recovery. Do you get snappy when you’re hungry? Do you binge? Do you seek other things such as unhealthy snacks when you’re hungry? Or do you crave for your addiction like you did before, thinking that it will allay your hunger?
It is best to keep nutritious and healthy snacks within your reach just in case hunger strikes again. Be sure to have a full meal, especially during breakfast and have access to healthier food options that will take your mind off from craving other things such as drugs or alcohol.
Anger. Anger is a very powerful emotion, and you should be aware of how your body and mind react to anger. Anger can produce immediate effects to you, physically, such as stress. It can also cause you to be impulsive and do things you might regret later on. By learning some calming tools, such as meditation and breathing exercises, you can better manage anger when it comes. Besides, it is best to stay clear of situations that will bring you to feel anger.
Loneliness. Loneliness can come and go–and often persist–especially early in your recovery. You may feel like you’re alone and that no one understands you. One of the most effective ways to counter loneliness is to find a support group and to be around people who have been through what you are going through. Another tip is to find a hobby or an activity that you are really interested in. When you’re alone and feeling lonely, you can also go to your closest family and friends.
Tired. There may be times in the past when you were in active recovery that you turn to your addiction when you are tired or stressed. You addiction may have been your outlet to either fall asleep or stay awake. Now that you are in recovery, tiredness can also be a formidable enemy, so you have to learn new ways to handle this feeling instead of turning to your usual crutches before. Meditate, read a book, exercise, and do other more positive and productive activities.
Understanding HALT and the other feelings that come with these four states of mind can give you a better chance of succeeding in your recovery. By equipping yourself with powerful coping mechanisms, you can counter HALT and be able to better go through your recovery journey.