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Recognizing Triggers of Trauma Before Relapse Begins

Managing recovery is difficult enough without a history of trauma. When balancing your recovery from addiction to alcohol or other substances and behaviors, you might try to avoid people, places, and things that could trigger you to revert to old behaviors. However, when you are also recovering from trauma, avoidance of triggers is not always possible.

What Is a Trigger?

A trigger is a stimulus that brings back memories of trauma and can induce flashbacks, emotional responses, physiological responses, or make you struggle with other aspects of your life. For some, a trigger may be a smell, sound, or event. One may even get triggered by facial expressions or objects.

One key point to remember about triggers is they can vary from people to people, and you may have more than you think. Therefore, pinpointing what might trigger you will help you maintain your recovery. Avoiding those triggers is helpful, but this is not always possible.

You Cannot Always Avoid Triggers

Many people in recovery have heard the adage that advises avoiding “people, places, and things.” This advice is especially helpful for those who are struggling with recovery from an addiction to alcohol or other substances and behaviors.

It can be easy to avoid some people, places, and things. However, for those who have experienced a traumatic event, you may never be able to avoid all of your triggers. Learning to cope with triggers, then, is essential to your recovery and ability to build a healthy, peaceful, and fulfilling life.

5 Ways to Cope with Triggers

Being able to cope with your triggers is essential to your ability to pursue the life you want for yourself.

There are various ways to cope with triggers, but here are five that may help as you develop the skills to identify and manage your reactions to triggering situations.

#1. Walk Away

One of the quickest and easiest methods of coping with triggers is to walk away. You can walk away from people, places, and things. You can leave your cart in a store if you are struggling. Your mental health needs to be a priority, and if you are triggered in a store or other social gathering, walking away is acceptable.

Another part of walking away can mean turning off whatever is triggering you. Music, movies, and social media present new images and ideas every day. Some of this media can be triggering. If you find yourself triggered by any of these, turn it off. It is okay to not watch a movie or know about the latest events on a television series. You do not have to listen or watch triggering things.

You need to take care of yourself and ensure your own feelings of safety. You deserve to feel safe, and if that means avoidance, then you can do that. You do not need permission or an excuse.

#2. Ask for Help

Sometimes, you may get into a situation that is triggering. As a result, you struggle to manage your emotions, and you may even have flashbacks. Flashbacks are painful and sometimes feel like they will never end.

It is important to remind yourself that they will end, but you may need some help in the meantime. Asking for help does not make you incapable. Instead, reaching out takes great courage. Your wounds have kept you alone long enough. Ask for help. We all get overwhelmed and need a hand-up sometimes.

#3. Get Creative

At The Guest House, we encourage creativity. We offer various opportunities and options for you to learn how to cope creatively. Music, art, writing, and other activities can help you process your emotions and circumstances. Sometimes, by engaging our artistic selves in managing our emotions, we can begin to see healing. Many think healing only happens in therapy, but researchers are learning more every day about the importance of creativity. So pull out a canvas, guitar, or your favorite playlist and get those creative juices flowing. Your creativity may help save your life.

#4. Practice Mindfulness and Grounding

Meditation is a part of life at The Guest House. We encourage you to learn how to stay present and focused on your experiences. As you re-enter the world after treatment, we want you to know how to remain mindful and be able to ground yourself when in triggering situations. Staying mindful and recognizing you are safe is critical to your survival and recovery.

#5. Self-Soothe

As part of some therapies, creating a self-soothe kit/box is encouraged. Having this kit handy can help you manage triggering situations and decompress after a stressful day. Pack in your kit a candle that smells good, something that you like to taste, a blanket or something you enjoy the feel of, or other items that affect your five senses and help you maintain a sense of calm. While this may seem odd, having a kit improves the probability of your success in recovering from a triggering situation.

Managing Triggers Helps You in Recovery

Overall, you must remember that your recovery is critical to your survival. Managing triggers is but one aspect of your recovery. You can avoid people, places, and things, but you must also prepare a means of managing unexpected triggers. The previous coping skills are a few that you may want to put in your toolbox of strategies. You can overcome your trauma. You are a survivor, and with a focus on managing your recovery, you will become a thriver.

Learning how to cope with triggers can be the key to your survival in recovery. There are so many things in life that may trigger you and make you more susceptible to relapse. At The Guest House, we recognize the struggle of overcoming trauma and addiction to alcohol or other substances and behaviors. We know you have worked hard to overcome your struggles and maintain your recovery, which is why we offer an alumni program for those who have completed our other programs. If you or someone you know is struggling with overcoming trauma, mental health concerns, or addiction to alcohol or other substances and behaviors, we are here to help. Reach out to The Guest House at (855) 483-7800 today and learn how we can help you find and build a life you can be excited about. Don’t you think it’s time to recover?