Last night I felt whisked back to start of my recovery in 2007. There was a discussion about ‘triggers’. Suddenly I was Obi-Wan Kenobi, slowly sitting down on a rock, rubbing my chin thoughtfully. The term ‘trigger’ simply doesn’t exist for me today. Or it does, I just handle them differently!

People, Places and Things

People, places and things was the first thing I thought of when the topic was brought up for discussion. If you have friends who drink or use around you – you’re going to drink or use drugs. If you keep going places where you drank or used drugs – you’re going to drink or use drugs. If you’re still doing things you use to do – you’re going to drink or use drugs. Recovery is about changing those things we used to do into actions which support our new recovery lifestyles.

For instance, in my early recovery I lived on the east side of town but the treatment provider was located on the south side of town. In order to get there (the fastest way) I had to go through a gauntlet (as I called it). If I went down the quick route, I had to go by four bars. In early sobriety I knew I would drink. Instead, I changed my route to take me a block or two around those bars. I simply had to avoid them at all costs.

I took away all temptation. When I took away the temptation to drink from people, places and things, recovery in itself was a little easier day by day. It wasn’t easy at all – I knew nothing. I had to gain the knowledge and wisdom from others on who this was all done – by listening.

“Trigger” is a clinical term

In my experience, the only place I have heard the term “trigger” is in a rehab or someone early in recovery. It’s a clinical (professional) term to describe a sensation to drink or use drugs because the situation, place or thing reminds us of our drinking or using drugs. A suggestion at the time from professionals was “Play the Tape Through” . This may not be sound advice but it helped.

Instead of stopping at the thought of drinking or using drugs, remember what happened AFTER – the negative consequences. The hang over or sickness either immediately or the morning after. Simply making bad decisions causing more bad things to happen either right then or later.

Isn’t this how I got here in the first place? Do I really want to go through all this again? Or do I need to change what I’m doing right now? Hopefully, we choose the later.

Triggers Don’t Exist Today

The physical cravings and mental obsession about drinking or drug use go away in time, only if you learn how to change your way of thinking. Today, I don’t experience a heart stopping craving or obsession. Instead, a person, place or thing may cause me to remember something from my past. I may experience a split nano second thought about drinking or using drugs. When I do, I need to pause to ask myself, “What is going on?” I have to be honest with myself.

Under no circumstances am I going to drink or use. No matter what life throws in front of me a drink or drug is not going to make things better. Yet, there is something stirring in me causing these feelings. What to do about them?

In early recovery the most important thing is to ASK FOR HELP from someone other than yourself. Even when someone has a length of recovery under their belt, they have tools to use. I’m always asking others, “Hey this came up. I felt like drinking. Talk to me” On more than one occasion, a brief discussion with someone understanding of who I am, what I’m going through and who has been through it themselves – SAVED MY LIFE.

I hope it saves your life too!

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