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8 Powerful Ways to Improve the Way You Handle Triggers

Knowing how to identify and manage your triggers in addiction recovery are key in maintaining abstinence. Various situations, people or places can cause you to want to use or drink again.  And it’s not surprising – it’s how you’ve coped with difficulties for years.

There are two different types of triggers: “external” or “internal” and each can arise from our environment, lifestyle or relationships you have with others.  We created a chart to help you visualize what these are and identified several powerful ways to help you improve the way you handle triggers.  Every time you handle a trigger in a healthy way, is another time you prevent relapse.

Ways To Improve the Way You Handle Triggers in Addiction Recovery

Prevention and Action- What You Can Do:

1. Develop a list of people, places and things that may trigger you. Next, create a plan for each describing how you’ll handle it. Maybe you’ll call a friend or your sponsor. Maybe you’ll meditate. Whatever it is, you’ll know what your next step is when that trigger hits.

2. Prepare yourself. Make a schedule. Create a plan for what your week or month will look like so that you don’t have time to put yourself in situations that can lead you in the wrong direction.

3. Call your sponsor or talk to your counsellor or therapist regularly about your triggers.

4. Breathe. Reflect. Jeff, one of the counsellors and a writer at Phoenix, believes it’s important to stop and breathe. “I ask myself what the heck? What am I thinking right now? Then I play the tape through. What will happen after my money or drugs run out? I’ll hate myself, lose my job or have to live a lie until I get caught. Either way I will be a mess. Relationships would be screwed. All those things would make my life hell. And I can’t live in hell ever again. Then I ask myself what would a healthy person in recovery do right now?”

5. Go for a walk or remove yourself from the situation to help you stop thinking about those cravings.

6. HALT! Make sure you are getting enough rest and eating regularly to ensure your blood sugar level doesn’t drop, because that can trigger those cravings.

7. Get rid of the things that are causing the trigger and try meditating or practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you understand how to live in the present moment while safely experiencing your emotions.

8. Try seeing an acupuncturist. Derek Shin, a psychotherapist and registered acupuncturist, who works closely with Bellwood Health Services clients explained why acupuncture helps a lot of people who experience cravings: “There are specific points that acupuncture uses to help ground you. These points are all about balancing the mind, body and spirit.  If you focus on specific points of the body, they can help with anxiety, stress and fatigue. We use acupuncture in conjunction with breathing to help patients with these cravings.”

9. Triggers are going to happen to you. What matters is how you deal with them. The important thing to remember is that recovery is possible. You don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to us if you need to talk to someone over the phone or visit one of our clinics.


How to Fight Those Triggers. The Fix

5 Tips for Managing Triggers During Addiction Recovery (World of Psychology)

National Addictions Awareness Week – Addiction Matters

Every year, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) leads Canada in National Addictions Awareness Week. Organizations from all over the country participate by holding events, blogging, tweeting and writing for national media outlets.  It’s a chance for the whole country to learn more about addiction, treatment and recovery, while working to break the stigma of this shame-based disease. The theme this year is “Addiction Matters”, which really drills down to the heart of things. Addiction does matter to all of us; even if you don’t know it, addiction affects you. Here are the stats:

Only 10% of Canadians who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder access publicly funded services. Approximately 1.5 million Canadians meet the criteria. Around 143,000 access these services. That means that there about 1.35 million Canadians who need help but aren’t getting it. There are a lot of reasons someone might not access treatment; they’re not ready, they don’t believe they have a problem, the wait list is too long, they don’t have the money, they are ashamed, etc. But the bottom line is that there are 1.35 million Canadians and their families who are suffering right now from a treatable disease where long-term recovery is possible.

The total societal cost of substance abuse is 39.8 billion dollars. Or $1297.00 per Canadian. Whether the cost comes from lost productivity in the workplace, increased cost to our healthcare system or pressure on our law enforcement agencies, substance use disorders cost money.

Canadians are dying. Substance use disorders can be progressive and fatal if left untreated. In fact, 47,000 deaths are linked to substance abuse every year. Women are vulnerable; those who use drugs are 54% more likely than men to die prematurely due to drug use. If you’ve been following the stories on fentanyl, than you know we’re seeing a frightening rise in opioid-related deaths. In the last 20 years, these deaths have increase by 242% in Ontario.

By bringing awareness to substance abuse with events like National Addictions Awareness Week, we can bring this disease to the forefront in Canada. It affects us all, and it’s time we prioritized those suffering. Addiction matters.

#AddictionMatters Infographic