Emotional Triggers: Defintion and How to Manage Them

Being aware of internal triggers and learning how to manage them requires close introspection and mindfulness. Many different stimuli can be possible triggers, and they are often strongly influenced by past experiences. Personally, as someone who lives with mental illness, I have experienced numerous triggers when I’ve been symptomatic. These triggers have led to extreme discomfort, family conflict, onset of illness, worsening of symptoms, episodes and hospitalizations. A person’s behaviors based on their emotional reaction can range from relatively minimal to serious, such as acts of violence. Someone exposed to a trigger while symptomatic may be more vulnerable and the emotional reaction may be stronger.

  • She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.
  • Many different stimuli can be possible triggers, and they are often strongly influenced by past experiences.
  • Education on coping skills can help people manage thoughts of using.
  • Recovery is not easy and most people require addiction treatment to reclaim their lives once they become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • If you are newly in recovery, you may want to consider an outpatient program for your first few months into sobriety.
  • Both of these behavior triggers can both be used to build habits.

There are many different thoughts that can trigger a person in recovery, but all of them can lead to relapse if not handled correctly. A person may rationalize that they are a bad person through negative thoughts, and therefore relapse, because they do not feel they are worth saving. Once I got clean, I would find myself confronted with negative emotions that I would so often use alcohol to get away from. When problems arose within my family or at work , I felt the same negative emotions as before, only this time I no longer had the alcohol to cope. It was a whole new territory for me to have to deal with emotions instead of trying to escape them. Also, writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a daily journal could help you identify trends, events, or stimuli that lead to triggers.

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Contact a treatment provider today to find your way to peace and sobriety. Keeping a trigger diary is an effective way for individuals to identify and anticipate triggers in their daily lives. When someone records detailed information on what, who, when, and where was the motivation before their use or craving, they can gain insight into how to reduce temptation or take preventive action.

Following these strategies can reduce the risk of relapse due to emotional addiction triggers and maintain long-term sobriety. Each time a person is triggered is a learning opportunity that can help manage reactions in the future. If a person can’t control the trigger fully, they may be able to limit the emotional reaction to it before it becomes problematic and harder to address. They might even be able to prevent the trigger by preparing for it.

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Or, you might see an advertisement that makes you want to get drunk with your old friends. Internal triggers are extremely powerful and they are often much more difficult to deal with than external ones because you cannot always control the way you feel or the passing thoughts you think. You can avoid a certain situation or person, but you cannot just avoid feeling depressed or angry. After transitioning out of rehab and heading back home or into a sober living program, every individual in recovery will encounter several triggers that can cause a relapse. If you are starting to consider relapse, you may find that you are exposing yourself to possible triggers, even subconsciously.

What Are Internal and External Triggers?

These strategies are formulated in drug rehab and can be practiced safely within a transitional housing situation. Internal triggers are thoughts or emotions that make you want to use drugs or alcohol. For example, you may feel a lot of anger when you run into your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend at the store, which may make you want to drink. Or, when you’re out having fun with your friends, you may feel confident and in control, so you may permit yourself to smoke marijuana because you convince yourself that you deserve it.

What is the internal trigger?

Internal triggers are the thoughts and feelings that a person has that can cause a desire for drugs or alcohol. While we may tend to think that negative feelings lead to relapse, it's important to acknowledge that both positive and negative feelings could be a trigger.

About 40-60% of those struggling with addiction relapse following treatment. Whether your triggers are emotional distress or a specific situation, it is essential that you know what compels you to use when trying to lead a life of sobriety. Understanding what triggers you to relapse and having a internal and external triggers plan in place for these triggers are your first steps toward prevention. In the ongoing dialogue about mental health, we don’t talk enough about triggers. Most often, the discussion focuses on what happens after a person has been triggered, which is when the situation is much harder to address.

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