According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, even the smallest image of your drug of addiction can cause you to crave that drug or behavior. Most people do not even notice that they have seen a trigger until it is too late. Then suddenly they are craving the drug and the addiction is causing problems again. This is why knowing about triggers when you are in recovery is so crucial to success.
What are Triggers?
A trigger is something that causes a person to think about or crave their drug or behavior of choice. A trigger can be just about anything that is associated with the drug addiction, addictive behavior, or drug abuse. A few examples of triggers are:
- Images of the drugs
- Images of paraphernalia
- Images of drug use
- Places where you previously used drugs
- People that you used the drugs with
- Times that you used the drug
- People that sold you the drug
- Objects that remind you of the drug use
- Anything else that you associate with the drugs and drug use
You can see how triggers can cause someone to want to use the drug. If you have ever watched a television commercial and started craving the food pictured, you have experienced a trigger. It is the same for triggers in drug use.
What is Relapse?
Relapse happens when you stop using the drug, usually during treatment, and then suddenly start again. It is backsliding into a behavior that is harmful and you worked to get rid of. Unfortunately, relapse usually means that you wind up back on the drug that you worked so hard to get off.
Relapse is not necessarily failure. Many people relapse and still find their way off the drug that is an issue. It is simply a setback. When you relapse it is important to go back into treatment and deal with the issue.
Why are Triggers Dangerous to Treatment?
Triggers are dangerous to treatment because they can cause the backsliding behavior. A trigger can cause a powerful craving for the drug. If you have not gotten rid of or learned to deal with your triggers while in treatment, you can wind up right back in the throes of addiction again. Triggers can erase all of the hard work that you did in treatment.
Most good treatment programs address triggers and how to either remove or avoid them. You might not have to avoid them for the rest of your life but you might have to avoid them until you know how to deal with them.
What can you do About Them?
You can talk to your counselor or doctor about what causes your drug use. By identifying the trigger before you come across it you can be better prepared to confront the trigger. Most triggers are avoidable but you can train yourself to deal with those that are not.
One way to avoid triggers is to make sure that you are in a treatment program that helps you to deal with them.