Learning to Recognize Your Alcohol Triggers

The word “trigger” is complicated, and it comes in many forms. In fact, triggers are as numerous and unique as the people who are affected by them. In short, a trigger is something that creates a response in your body, which can be physical, mental, and/or emotional. For those with alcohol addiction and dependency problems, a trigger can spell serious danger as it sends you back to the bottle.

At LifeSync Malibu, under the direction of Dr. Geoffrey Booth, our team understands how incredibly difficult the road to recovery can be for those with an alcohol use disorder, especially during the early days. With our years of experience, we’ve found that there are some great ways to ease the journey — starting with a trigger management plan.

Here’s a look at the importance of recognizing your alcohol triggers in recovery.

Keeping track

If, like many, you’ve spent years numbing your emotions with alcohol, the early days of recovery can be an emotional roller coaster ride. During these raw and fragile days, it’s important to take a very close look at the things that make you feel uncomfortable — the people, places, or things that lead to an urge to drink.

While it may seem like everything is a trigger at first, if you sift through your reactions and responses, you will likely begin to notice a pattern. Bear in mind, a trigger can cause any number of feelings, including:

A great way to track these emotional responses is to keep a journal, where you can make three categories: people, places, and things. As you make your way through recovery, keep this journal close and check the column every time you feel an urge to drink. By keeping track in this way, you can immediately diffuse your triggers while also gathering valuable information for us to work on.

Talk it out

As you log your triggers, your next step is to talk about them, either through our individual or group counseling.

Here again, by discussing with us the events or people that lead to you being triggered, we can study your response more closely and address the underlying emotions tied to that response. The urge to drink is usually a symptom, or a coping mechanism, of something bigger, and it’s this work in getting to the root of your discomfort that will help keep you from relapsing.

Trigger management

Another goal of identifying your triggers is to figure out the best practices for managing them. For example, if you know that a certain restaurant, bar, or group of friends is so closely tied to drinking that you can’t imagine the people, places, or events without a drink in your hand, it’s best to steer clear for a time until you feel strong enough.

During early recovery, we spend a considerable amount of time working with our patients to manage their triggers, finding healthier alternatives that lead them away from drinking. 

The bottom line is that recognizing your triggers is one of the most valuable steps you can take during your recovery. This awareness can clear the way forward to a healthier, happier life that’s free from the bonds of addiction.

If you’d like to learn more about recognizing and managing your triggers, contact our office in Malibu, California, to set up an appointment.

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