Triggers are a common point of conversation for those who are trying to overcome substance abuse and addiction. A trigger can be anything that brings back thoughts, feelings and memories that are associated with addition. Triggers are also known as cues and in psychology, they are generally paired with a reward or punishment.
The well-known Pavlov’s dog experiment is the perfect example of triggers or cues and nearly all humans have experienced a situation in which a trigger or cue is identified. For some it may be overwhelming memories and emotions that seem to come out of nowhere when a certain song is played on the radio.
When something is seen, smelled, heard, etc., the individual associates the experience with a reward or a consequence. For the drug addict, that reward is the drug. Identifying those triggers and eliminating them from an individual’s surroundings helps the individual become well equipped for recovery.
Understanding triggers and how to avoid them is critical in recovery as relapses are generally the result of triggers. Even after successfully completing drug or alcohol treatment through a quality treatment center, individuals can easily relapse if triggers enter into their environment. In fact, a 2005 study found that between 50 to 80 percent of all people experience a relapse after going through treatment for addiction.
While these numbers can be discouraging, they also point to how easily individuals can fall back into addiction if triggers are too powerful. In effective treatment methods, triggers for individuals dealing with addiction must be identified in order to ensure recovery can be successful. For those individuals who go back to the same way of life they left before addiction, the triggers still exist and unresolved problems lead to a relapse into alcohol and drugs.
Therefore, the identification of triggers while still in the detoxification program is essential. When the individual identifies what things that make them want to use drugs or alcohol, they can become more prepared to avoid those triggers and high-risk situations that can lead to relapse. If an addict leaves treatment and discovers new things that can cause a temptation to use drugs and alcohol, the individual must be able to learn how to eliminate those things from their life.
It isn’t likely that a recovering addict will be able to completely remove all triggers from their environment forever. There will be instances where triggers will be present for whatever reason. Effective treatment methods will provide the individual with the tools to identify those triggers and deal with those triggers, which will help to empower the individual to achieve a successful recovery.
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