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Defining Triggers and What They Mean

You have likely heard people online, in shows, or maybe even some people you know use the word “trigger” causally. Someone might say, “It really triggers me when my neighbor’s friends parks in my driveway.” What they really mean is it annoys, frustrates, or makes them angry when their neighbor does not respect their space. While these casual references to triggers are common, they miss the mark on what it truly means. In reality, triggers can be incredibly harmful to your physical and psychological well-being.

What Are Triggers?

According to an article from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a trigger is when an action or situation leads to an adverse emotional reaction. Moreover, there is no specific set of triggers that can be applied to a person. Everyone’s stressors are unique to their individual experiences.

Mental Health Stressors

As NAMI notes, responses to stressors are different for each person. For some people, their reactions can manifest physically, increasing perspiration and heart rate. Other people may experience emotional reactions to triggers, leaving them feeling attacked or judged.

Triggers are overwhelming and can impair your judgment. Moreover, there are several different types of mental health triggers brought on by different types of stimuli:

  • External
  • Internal
  • Trauma
  • Symptom

Further, there is a similar relationship between mental health stressors and the triggers experienced with substance use disorder (SUD).

The Stressors of Substance Use Disorder

According to an article from Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, a trigger is an important element in craving responses found in SUD. Traditionally, the triggers for SUD have been perceived as external stimuli, such as being in a room with the substance you used. However, there is a deeper entanglement between the external and internal triggers of SUD cravings.

Therefore, as noted in an article from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is an internal connection between triggers and the trauma of experiences. During the holidays, things like songs, scents, and holiday rituals can feel harmless for some, but for many, this is where the external and internal intersect. The external stimuli can act as reminders of familial pressures and dysfunction or invoke feelings of loneliness and loss. Therefore, your psychological well-being plays an important role in the stressors that lead to SUD or relapse.

Building Skills to Cope With External and Internal Triggers

At The Guest House, we are dedicated to getting to the root of your SUD to understand your triggers. When you can understand the core of your trauma and how it intersects with your self-defeating behaviors, you can start building healthy coping skills. Moreover, our holistic approach to care gives us the space to support your long-term healing. With our wide range of treatments, we can focus on treating the whole person in body, mind, and spirit.

Triggers can cause physiological distress and increase the risk of substance use. Additionally, triggers can make it difficult to regulate and process your emotions. However, with support, you can learn how to build healthier coping skills to prevent substance use or SUD relapse. At The Guest House, we can help you get to the root of your trauma to understand your triggers. Therefore, with a holistic approach to care, you can have the space to truly start healing every part of yourself. Call us at (855) 483-7800 today.