Tips on Dealing with Triggers

Dealing with triggers can be a daily challenge. There are healthy ways you can deal with triggers and the thoughts and feelings that accompany them. Triggers associated with addiction can be internal or external. It’s important to know the difference between the two.  

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Internal Triggers

Internal triggers are thoughts and feelings that can often lead to substance abuse or relapse.

Negative Emotions

Internal triggers can often include negative emotions, which are common triggers for relapse during your recovery journey. These negative emotions can cause you to experience the following:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Shame

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts and memories are also a part of internal triggers. These thoughts are often random and can lead to ideas that cause a relapse. Recognizing your intrusive thoughts can help you maintain your sobriety.


Painful and traumatic memories, such as childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are involuntary memories caused by sights, smells, or sounds. Other memories can include the use of a substance, which is also a trigger.

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External Triggers

External triggers are those that are caused by the outside world. These triggers can be more difficult to deal with than internal triggers.

Social Situations

Social situations involve being around other people who consume one or multiple substances that can trigger cravings. These situations can include parties, sporting events, and similar environments.

Smells, Tastes, Sounds, and Sights

Song lyrics and TV shows can discuss or show substance abuse, which can stimulate your memories of past substance use. Smells and tastes can also be powerful triggers that stimulate memories and the feeling of using different substances.

Certain Living Conditions

Abusive home environments, marital issues, and lack of income can trigger substance use. If you can, try to correct as many issues as possible to prevent a relapse.

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Handling Substance Abuse Triggers

Handling the triggers associated with substance abuse requires patience and determining which methods work best for you.

Create a Support Group

Reach out to your friends and relatives for support. These are the people who can help you stay on track when you’re feeling frustrated, depressed, and experiencing other emotions. Be open to discussing your thoughts and feelings, whether in a good or bad mood.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Pat yourself on the back every day you remain sober. Celebrate every week, month, or year you remain sober and give yourself the credit you deserve.

Make a List

Relapses happen. When you feel you’re headed down the wrong path, list the benefits you have from remaining sober and the cost of a relapse. Use this list as motivation to help you maintain your sobriety on the rough days.

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Here at My 12 Step Store, we’re with you every step of the way on your journey to recovery, helping you celebrate.

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