Internal and external events, or how to design event-driven API

Remember that different coping strategies may work for different triggers and emotions. Although it is important to increase your awareness of your triggers, doing so can cause some distress. Some people might become triggered by trying to identify their triggers. Therefore, before you take steps to identify your triggers, ensure you have a safety plan in place in case you experience some distress.

Even people who don’t use illicit drugs can be a trigger threat to someone in recovery. The researchers concluded that avoiding people, places and objects that recall former substance abuse is crucial to maintaining recovery. There are two main types of triggers to be aware of — internal triggers and external triggers. External triggers are often easier to identify, as they are people, places, things and activities that make someone want to use drugs or alcohol again. Internal triggers can be more difficult to identify as they are feelings that are often complex.

Psychologist-Recommended Strategies

In rats and humans, the hormone corticosterone increases the level of dopamine, a brain chemical that plays a major role in reward-seeking behavior, in the brain in response to stress. Cocaine and several other illicit drugs also boost levels of dopamine. The Marquette researchers stated a stressed animal previously exposed to cocaine will crave the drug because the dopamine surge from cocaine trumps the release of stress-related dopamine. For some, a trigger might cause a physical response – heavy breathing, sweating, crying. For some, a trigger can elicit an emotional reaction, like thinking “I am being attacked.” For some, a trigger can cause harm or a relapse.

  • If you find yourself stuck thinking about drugs or alcohol, it’s time to get your support system involved.
  • These may include shutting family off, denying issues or justifying substance use.
  • For many people, drug and alcohol use began as a way to alleviate boredom or make certain activities feel more fun.
  • People at risk of a relapse should avoid stressful situations that are likely to push them to use drugs and alcohol.

By Matthew Tull, PhD

Matthew Tull, PhD is a professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder. When you choose to get treatment at North Georgia Recovery Center, you can rest assured knowing that you will be treated by licensed therapists in our state-of-the-art facilities. Every one of our team members is certified to address and effectively treat the issues that come along with addiction. When triggered, we often execute a mindless action to ease the negative sensation. McGeehan points to a 2013 review of more than 200 studies that found mindfulness-based therapy effectively reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. However, if avoidance hinders your ability to function, you should seek help.

Relapse Risk Factors

It starts as a tiny irritant, like a piece of sand, triggering continuous layering of coats to produce a pearl (a fully formed habit). McGeehan also recommends grounding techniques, including square breathing or finger breathing, to help people return to the present moment when a trigger strikes them. If you can find alternative routes to your next destination, try to map out your drive.

After a period of poor self-care, someone in recovery will likely experience some of the mental signs of relapse. They may begin to feel discontent with their progress and restless in their disintegrating routine. Without the proper structure and routine, a person is more likely to start thinking about using again. It’s key to remember that these are not failures and shouldn’t be termed as such. Obstacles in recovery are often caused by insufficient coping skills or an inability to plan effectively.

Two Types of Triggers: External & Internal

It requires vigilance, resilience, and a commitment to ongoing self-improvement. But with the right support and resources, individuals can effectively navigate these challenges and continue on their path to recovery. A study from Marquette Facts About Aging and Alcohol National Institute on Aging University pointed out that stress rendered people in recovery more vulnerable to other relapse triggers. Researchers followed the cocaine use patterns of stressed and unstressed rats and used a low dose of cocaine as a trigger.

  • A variety of underlying mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are closely related to addiction and can result in a person experiencing more triggers or more powerful ones.
  • To overcome withdrawal symptoms, most people need some form of detoxification or withdrawal management service.
  • This can be anything from certain social situations, responsibilities, and even specific places that trigger your desire to use again.
  • These, and countless other things, are prime examples of external triggers, and they are going to be largely unavoidable.
  • The negative side effects of relapsing after enrolling in drug and alcohol recovery programs is another concern.
  • We propose you take a moment to learn about how addictive triggers can impact your life.

The cravings act as a reflex to external or internal triggers, and this response can even affect individuals who have abstained from drugs or alcohol for a long time. In the context of mental health conditions, internal triggers are the cognitive and emotional cues that lead to a relapse of symptoms. For example, negative thoughts and feelings might trigger a relapse of drug or alcohol use.