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Do I Have to Avoid Triggers in Recovery?

Achieving sobriety, successfully finishing a residential detox or treatment program, or having months or years in recovery are all milestones to celebrate. After a time, though, complacency and over-confidence may set in. Although many suggest that you should avoid triggers in mid-to-long-term recovery, part of you may doubt this kind of strict “abstinence.” It is essential to remain humble about your potential for relapse. Between 40-60 percent of people in recovery relapse; therefore, you should never let your guard down. If you have gone through detox treatment with sweat and tears, you would not want to sabotage that by putting yourself in a position that could cause a relapse.

What Are Triggers to Watch Out For?

Once you finish detox treatment at a residential facility and come home, there are tangible and intangible triggers to watch out for. The visible ones are substances around the home. Make sure to get rid of all drugs and alcohol. Those who find substitute cravings in sugar, sweets, or other things also need to minimize the presence of these products.

Another visible trigger is any person or group of people in your social life who use substances excessively. You should try to minimize or avoid interaction with those people, especially if they try to get you to partake in those things with them. Try to make new friends who live a healthy lifestyle. Stick with your 12-step program sponsor if you have one who has adjusted to post-treatment life, and ask for advice on selecting a new social circle.

The invisible triggers are the most difficult to catch. First, there is stress, which is the leading cause of relapse. Recall what you learned at your treatment center and always self-assess your stress levels. Avoid situations or relationships that cause you extreme discomfort or stress. Make relaxation techniques part of your post-sobriety lifestyle to deal with stressors that do come your way. Continuing to see a counselor to talk about the stress will also give you relief.

Another invisible trigger is cravings, which may be the most difficult to deal with. Know that these cravings are part of how your body and mind react to the lack of substance, so it’s normal to experience them. The key is to remind yourself not to act on it. If these cravings are triggered by a certain situation, then remove yourself from that situation. You can also use other healthy hobbies or social interactions as a distraction from such cravings.

Can I Overcome These Triggers With My Willpower?

Realistically, you are probably aware that the transition from treatment to the home environment may include many challenges for people in early recovery. You cannot rely on mere willpower to avoid cravings and relapse. If willpower alone worked, you would not have needed the help of a treatment center. Recall what you have learned about how addiction damages your body and mind and use the tools you’ve been given to avoid further damage. Many factors are beyond your control. Control what you can by detecting triggers and coming up with coping strategies to mitigate relapse.

During your residential treatment, therapists and counselors likely worked with you to identify your triggers. Before you get discharged from treatment, come up with a relapse prevention plan with your trusted counselors using the guiding principles of boundaries and accountability. The outcome should be a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep patterns. Your body needs time to recuperate from addiction.

When you return home, you must closely monitor your physical and psychological changes. Finding an outpatient program for the first three to six months post-discharge is also a good idea. This will allow for continuity of treatment. It can help you transition into structured home life and social environment that closely resembles a recovery community with healthy routines and known warning signs to watch out for.

What Else Should I Do Toward Long-term Recovery?

Even with all the planning, motivation, and effort, there is a chance that you will at some point experience a relapse. This is not a failure, but a learning experience on the road to recovery, so you must not define yourself by that mistake. Relapse can be humbling, and it may reveal cracks in your support system. If you have achieved short-term sobriety once, you can do it again. Consider it an opportunity to build more effective structures in your life that you know have helped you. Long-term recovery simply means patiently repeating many short-term successes.

Do you have a relapse prevention plan after detox treatment? Are you thinking of relying on willpower to avoid triggers? The truth is, willpower alone is not enough for you to prevent relapse, so you should have some strategies in place. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our staff and therapists believe in evidence-based treatment plans. You will enjoy a tailor-made plan, which will give you the necessary tools to avoid triggers and relapse. Laguna Shores Recovery offers treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-steps group, and relationship skills coaching. Our staff not only walks alongside you during treatment but is experienced in designing a relapse prevention plan for you when you transition to your home environment. We also offer outpatient programs that you can use after finishing residential treatment. Schedule an appointment with us today at Laguna Shores Recovery. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term planning.