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Identifying Triggers: How to Recognize and Manage the Cues That Lead to Drinking

Identifying Triggers: How to Recognize and Manage the Cues That Lead to Drinking

Article At A Glance:

  • Identifying triggers is crucial in managing alcohol addiction and preventing relapse. There are four types of triggers: perceived opportunity triggers, attention allocating triggers, stress triggers, and priming triggers.
  • Perceived opportunity triggers occur when the body senses an opportunity to relapse, such as passing a bar on the way home. Attention allocating triggers reduce self-control and increase the risk of relapse. Stress triggers, such as work or family stress, can deplete concentration and increase the risk of impulsive behaviour. Priming triggers occur when an individual believes they can control their addiction and attempt to resume occasional drinking.
  • To manage triggers and prevent relapse, develop coping mechanisms, avoid triggering situations, and seek support from loved ones or professional resources. This can include therapy, support groups, and healthy habits like exercise and mindfulness.
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For individuals who are trying to recover from alcohol addiction, triggers can be a major challenge. 

Triggers can cause an overwhelming craving for alcohol and lead to relapse. However, with the right knowledge and tools, individuals can learn to recognize and manage their triggers, thus reducing their risk of relapse.

I’ve talked about triggers before, but in this article, we will discuss them in detail, and provide some actionable advice on how to manage them. 

Perceived Opportunity Triggers

Perceived opportunity triggers are those where your body sees or senses an opportunity to relapse, which are generally followed by intense cravings. 

This can be as simple as passing a bottle shop or bar on your way home, or even the time of day or week. For example, if you used to drink on Fridays after work, the time and day could be a trigger for you.

Managing Perceived Opportunity Triggers

To manage perceived opportunity triggers, it’s important to have a plan in place. For example, if passing a bar on your way home is a trigger, consider taking a different route. If the time and day are triggers for you, plan to do something else during that time, like going to a meeting or spending time with friends.

Attention Allocating Triggers

Attention allocating triggers involve the amount of mental allocation or brainpower one puts into thinking about the addiction, which can bring on an overwhelming craving. This can reduce our self-control, and thus, increase our risk for relapse. 

For example, if you constantly think about how much you miss drinking, or you focus too much on the negative aspects of your life, you could be at risk for an attention allocating trigger.

Managing Attention Allocating Triggers

To manage attention allocating triggers, it’s important to practice mindfulness and be aware of your thoughts. If you find yourself constantly thinking about alcohol, try to redirect your thoughts to something positive, like a hobby or activity you enjoy.

 This can help you shift your attention away from your addiction and towards something that brings you joy.

Establishing some core foundational habits can be key for this trigger, more on this topic here.

Stress Triggers

Daily stress can be a major trigger for individuals in recovery. Stress can reduce one’s concentration and judgment, bringing about an increased risk of impulse, leading to a poor choice being made. 

For example, if you have a stressful job, you may be more likely to crave alcohol as a way to cope with the stress.

Managing Stress Triggers

This one seems like a no-brainer but is often one of the biggest triggers to cause people to relapse. This is because stress these days is so prevalent. 

To manage stress triggers, it’s important to practice stress-management techniques, like exercise, meditation, or deep breathing. You can also seek professional help, like counselling or therapy, to learn how to manage stress in a healthy way.

Learn more about Alcohol Addiction and Stress and it’s Impact On Early Sobriety.

Priming Triggers

Priming triggers occur when an individual deeply believes they can now control themselves at this one time. 

This is usually when a former drinker goes six to eight months and attempts to resume occasional drinking in hopes that their addiction is gone, and it isn’t. This sort of activity begins to re-prime the craving pathway, which is why it’s called a “priming” trigger.

Managing Priming Triggers

This one is often the major culprit in people with extended sobriety, as the illusion of having an addiction wears off.

To manage priming triggers, it’s important to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and that sobriety is a lifelong commitment. It’s crucial to understand that even one drink can re-activate the addiction pathway in your brain, leading to a full-blown relapse.

The Takeaway

identifying and managing triggers is essential for individuals in recovery from alcohol addiction. 

By understanding the different types of triggers and having a plan in place to manage them, individuals can reduce their risk of relapse and maintain sobriety. Remember, recovery is a journey, and it’s important to seek help and support when needed. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, there is help available. Reach out to alcohol addiction treatment centres or groups like AA for support and guidance.

If you have any feedback regarding this article, reach out. Help Clarity reach more people and quit addiction by following us on Instagram, it’s also the perfect place to message us and ask questions!