Emotional Triggers

Recovery Can Be a Roller Coaster: How to Deal with Emotional Triggers

Relapse is a common part of the recovery process. In fact, 40-60 percent of individuals who struggle with substance abuse or addiction will relapse at some point.

Often, when people relapse, it is because they were faced with a trigger (or series of triggers) that they could not handle.

The more you know about your triggers and what kinds of coping mechanisms help you to deal with them, the less likely you’ll be to deal with relapse yourself.

Read on to learn more about common emotional triggers and the steps you can take to handle them in a healthy way and reduce your risk of relapse.

What Are Emotional Triggers?

An emotional trigger is anything that causes you to feel uncomfortable or experience any other kind of emotional reaction.

An example of an emotional trigger might be feeling angry or defensive when someone makes a comment about your past behaviors or feeling jealous when you see someone posting about an experience they had on social media.

Virtually anything can be an emotional trigger to someone.

Learning to identify emotional triggers is an essential part of the addiction recovery process.

Often, people turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with difficult emotions like jealousy and anger. In order to attain and maintain your sobriety, you need to find other, healthier ways to handle these feelings.

Common Emotional Triggers

A variety of different feelings can act as emotional triggers for folks who are in recovery. It’s important to note, too, that not all of these feelings are negative, although they certainly can be.

The following are some common emotions that can be triggering to people struggling with addiction:

Negative Feelings

When most people think of feelings that trigger a desire to use drugs or alcohol, they think of these kinds of negative feelings:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Irritation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Hate
  • Overconfidence
  • Jealousy
  • Sadness
  • Neglect
  • Overwhelm

A person might also become emotionally triggered when they feel that they’re being criticized or that they’re being viewed as inadequate.

Neutral Feelings

Neutral feelings can be emotional triggers, too.

For example, if someone is feeling bored, they might feel an urge to turn to alcohol or drugs just to give themselves something to do. They might turn to alcohol or drugs when they’re feeling relaxed, too, or if they want to feel more relaxed.

Positive Feelings

Positive emotions can even be triggering to some people. This is where things get really tricky.

For some people, celebrations might trigger a desire for alcohol or drugs as a way to let their hair down and enjoy some good news. Excitement, happiness, and passion can also be emotional triggers.

Tips for Recognizing with Triggers

Emotional triggers are often more difficult to deal with than other types of triggers. You might be able to avoid certain situations and people when you’re in recovery, but you can’t avoid all emotions.

Instead of trying to stay away from emotions when you’re recovering from addiction, it’s important to learn healthy ways to deal with all the different emotions you might experience.

Before you can deal with emotions and emotional triggers, though, you first need to figure out what your emotional triggers are.

Here are some tips that can help you start to identify your emotional triggers:

Notice Physical Reactions

Does your heart start beating rapidly when you get angry? Do you clench your fists when you’re stressed?

When you experience reactions like this, work backward to figure out what kind of emotion you’re feeling. Then, work backward some more to figure out what’s causing that emotion.

Notice Your Thoughts

Pay attention to the thoughts that run through your head, too. Have you suddenly started thinking irrationally or in extremes? What happened that brought on those thoughts?

What Happened Earlier?

You might not always experience emotional triggers when someone says or does something. You might be more prone to them, though, after a long day or after something else went wrong.

When you start experiencing physical reactions or negative thoughts, think about the context of the day and what kinds of situations might have contributed to them.

Tips for Dealing with Triggers

Once you’ve identified your emotional triggers, the next step is to learn to deal with them. Everyone handles their triggers differently, so you’ll have to do some experimentation to figure out which approaches work best for you.

The following are some ideas to help you get started:

Focus on Your Breath

When you start feeling physical reactions or negative thoughts in response to an emotional trigger, it helps to focus on your breath. This can calm your body down and get you out of a “fight or flight” state.

Try to Find Humor

It can be helpful to try and find humor in the situation, too. Often, we make issues more serious than they need to be. If possible, take a step back and try to find a way to lighten the moment.

Write Things Down

Many people also find that they can cope with triggers better if they write down how they’re feeling and nail down exactly what caused the feeling. Writing also gives you an opportunity to reflect and pause instead of reacting in an unhealthy way.

Take a Break

Sometimes, you just need to separate yourself from the situation altogether.

Whether you take a break to go write in a journal or engage in a hobby, taking a break before you respond can help you avoid losing your temper or saying or doing something you’ll regret later.

Get Help with Recovery Today

It’s not always easy to identify and cope with emotional triggers. The more you learn about yourself and the more you practice, though, the better your coping skills will become.

Remember, too, that you do not have to go through the recovery process alone.

If you need support from addiction recovery professionals or others who are also in recovery, we can help at Addiction Treatment Services.

Contact us today to learn more about different recovery programs in your area.

We have compassionate, caring admissions specialists available 24 hours a day to answer all of your questions and point you in the right direction.

References

Mojá, C. A., & Spielberger, C. D. (n.d.). Anger and Drug Addiction – Carmelo A. De Mojá, Charles D. Spielberger, 1997. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.2466/pr0.1997.81.1.152

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

How to Deal with Difficult People

How to Deal with Difficult People When Recovering from Addiction

Are you in the process of recovery?

Whether you’re recovering from drugs or alcohol, you know firsthand just how challenging the entire process can be. On top of the common challenges that accompany recovery, it can be easy to isolate yourself and feel alone in your struggles.

However, studies have found that more Americans than you might initially think have experienced recovery. In fact, 1 in 10 American adults has been in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction at one point in their lives.

Of these adults, the large majority have struggled with how to deal with difficult people during their recovery. If you find yourself nodding your head, you’re going to want to read this.

We’re uncovering seven proven methods for dealing with the difficult people that may present themselves during your recovery. Not only are these positive tips for life in general, but they’re also bound to help your overall recovery.

1. Modify Your Behavior

In dealing with difficult people, it’s important to remember that you cannot always modify someone else’s behavior.

Even if you feel strongly that their behavior is generally wrong, this doesn’t always translate to them understanding this notion. As a result, it’s likely that their patterns of bad behavior will continue and are unlikely to change.

Rather than focusing on how you can alter their behavior, try shifting your focus to how you can respond to their behavior. This is going to help give you control of the situation and minimize the negative effect that their behavior has on you.

2. Attempt to Understand Their Actions

When this person is showcasing their utmost difficulty, remember that you may be unaware of the current demons they’re facing. These struggles and hardships more than likely have a significant influence on their actions and presence.

It may also be helpful to remind yourself that you, too, may have been difficult at one point throughout your addiction. Before overcoming an addiction, it’s only natural for an addict to experience a range of emotions that lead to difficulty.

Do your best to understand why they may be acting out and appearing difficult. When you put yourself into their shoes, you’ll more than likely gain an appreciation for why they’re projecting themselves in such a poor manner.

3. Have Honest Conversations

When all else fails, why not be upfront and open with this person about how you’re feeling?

Allowing yourself to be honest with this person will provide them with valuable insight as to your thoughts and feelings. From their perspective, it may be surprising to them that you’re struggling with their actions. With this, it’s always possible that they may alter their behavior for the better.

Remember, difficult people, are not always aware as to how their actions impact others. While they may be experiencing struggle on the inside, they’re not always aware that this is being reflected on the outside.

4. Create Boundaries

It may be time to create a physical boundary between yourself and the difficult people in your life.

While this may be a difficult choice, it’s important to remember that boundaries can be very healthy for both parties. If you truly feel that the person nor their actions cannot be corrected, it may be time to slowly distance yourself from that person.

Remember, boundaries don’t have to be lifelong and can instead be temporary. So, this doesn’t mean that your relationship has to come to an official end. Rather, this means that you are taking a break from having this person in your life during the recovery process.

5. Remove Yourself from Toxic Relationships

Of course, not all relationships with difficult people are salvageable or worth saving. Before making any rash decisions, it’s essential to differentiate which relationships are too negative and unhealthy to continue.

If you truly feel that the difficult people in your life are toxic, it might be time to officially cut your ties to this person. While relationships in life are arguably one of the most rewarding and important facets of life, this isn’t the case for each and every relationship.

6. Reach out for Support

There comes a time and place where not all relationships can be saved nor abandoned. For many addicts in recovery, this will come in terms of dealing with a difficult family member such as a parent or a sibling.

While this relationship may feel toxic, it may also feel impossible to remove yourself from such a relationship. This is where it becomes crucial to enlist the help of others in dealing with this person.

This may come in terms of speaking to mutual connections as well as speaking with a therapist or your sponsor. Having honest conversations and allowing for the perspective of others can provide you with the tools necessary for tolerating this person.

7. Give Second Chances

Last but not least, it’s important to remind yourself that some people deserve to be given a second chance.

Remember that the majority of addicts are given a second chance at both life and in their relationships during recovery. Think back to the forgiveness that friends and family paid to you when you were suffering from your addiction.

When you extend your forgiveness to a difficult person in your life, it can help to foster an entirely new relationship. This new relationship can be a second chance at developing a more healthy and positive relationship with that person.

How to Deal with Difficult People During Recovery

Today, nearly 21 million American adults suffer from some form of substance addiction. In an attempt to lead a sober lifestyle, many of these adults will find themselves facing the bumpy road of recovery at some point.

While you may control your own actions in recovery, you may not always control the actions of those around you. When this takes place, you may find yourself wondering how to deal with difficult people that are present throughout your recovery.

Fortunately, these tips will help to provide guidance on how to overcome these difficulties and focus on your recovery. This may be anything from modifying your own behavior and attempting to understand the behavior of others to removing yourself from toxic relationships and establishing boundaries.

If you feel that yourself or a loved one may be facing addiction issues, be sure to contact us today. With a simple phone call, we can discuss the many options that are available to help today.

References

Chan, A. L. (2012, March 07). The Shocking Number Of Americans Who’ve Recovered From Substance Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/07/addiction-recovery-america-drugs-alcohol_n_1327344.html

Hafner, J. (2016, November 17). Surgeon general: 1 in 7 in USA will face substance addiction. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/11/17/surgeon-general-1-7-us-face-substance-addiction/93993474/

Boredom in Recovery

How to Combat Boredom in Recovery

Right now, 22 million Americans are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. Dealing with boredom in recovery is one of the biggest causes of relapse.

Boredom is a dangerous state of mind that can open up the floodgates to behaviors that are harmful and addicting. Especially when a person is in the delicate state of new sobriety.

But there is hope! Read on for the best ways you can deal with boredom in recovery in productive ways.

Unplug

So many people try coping with boredom by turning to electronic devices. They surf the net or social media sites or binge watch entire seasons on Netflix.

But though staring at a screen may seem like a good way to preoccupy yourself, the truth is you may be experiencing sensory overload. This reduces your ability to focus on anything for any length of time.

Plus, when you are staring at a screen, you aren’t living your life, you are just passively taking in information.

Take a look at your screen habits and set some boundaries. Start by powering off for an hour at the same time every day.

You could also set rules about how much time you will spend scrolling Facebook. A timer is a great way to stick to your goals.

As you unplug, your ability to focus and think clearly will improve. And you’ll find that when you are bored, you’ll be better able to find productive activities to turn to.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps you focus on the current moment without worrying about the future or ruminating on the past.

Boredom and addiction go hand-in-hand because boredom opens up a window for self-doubt and negative self-talk.

Mindfulness is one of the best tips for dealing with boredom in recovery. Meditation is a wonderful way that you can begin to become more mindful.

It may sound easy, but takes a lot of practice to successfully do for any length of time.

Best of all, as you start to pay attention to what you see, smell, hear and feel, the world becomes a richer and more fascinating place.

Hit the Gym

Exercise is the cure for so many of life’s ailments.

Trouble sleeping? Aches and pains? Low sex drive?

Exercise helps with all of these. When you are dealing with boredom in recovery, you are likely feeling pessimistic.

Exercise sends a rush of endorphins to your brain. Then, you experience a natural euphoric state that helps you feel good about yourself and your life.

So hit the gym and leave it all on the floor. You’ll get rid of some nervous energy and improve how your mind and body feel as well.

Try a New Hobby

You have heard that removing an addiction is not enough. You also need to replace that with new habits and interests.

One of the best ways of dealing with boredom in recovery is to find a new hobby or interest.

There must be something you’ve always found interesting but never done. Maybe you can take up rowing or woodworking.

Perhaps you’d love to learn how to quilt. Or you might want to finally learn Portuguese or cake decorating.

It really doesn’t matter what hobby you choose. A new interest will improve your mental health and focus.

Not to mention that it’s a great way to start new friendships. Look for local groups or classes and get involved.

Create a Daily Schedule

One of the best ways that you can learn how to deal with boredom is to create a schedule for yourself.

A large part of being bored is having no clear idea of what you should do next. Having a schedule keeps you on track and engaged with your activities.

Include meal prep and cooking healthy enjoyable meals. Make sure you schedule in a daily walk or spending time outdoors gardening or reading.

Set aside time to write in your journal and connect with your support group. And add in time for volunteering and learning new skills.

Set a Goal and Work Towards it

People who are goal-oriented have a purpose for their lives. And it doesn’t have to be a huge life-changing goal, either.

It can be a fitness goal like train for and run a marathon. Or it can be something like take a cooking class and learn how to cook Italian food.

The best thing is if you can make your goal measurable and give yourself a deadline. Six months to a year is often a good timeframe. Longer and you may get discouraged, too short and you may not have enough time to reach your goal.

Having a goal is an excellent way of coping with boredom during recovery.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

When you force yourself to get outside of your comfort zone, you stretch your limits and grow as a person. If you’re shy to talk to new people, start up a conversation in the grocery checkout line.

If you’re afraid of public speaking, join an improv club or a debate team. The result is that you will become a more courageous and adventurous person. And that will serve you well in your new life of sobriety.

Final Thoughts on Boredom in Recovery

Thanks for reading. As you can see boredom in recovery is manageable. There are so many proactive approaches you can take when dealing with boredom.

Do you have questions about addiction, treatment or scheduling an intervention? Contact us today and get the help you deserve.

References

Ashford, R. D., & Canode, B. (2018, August 29). It’s time to measure addiction recovery rates, not just addiction rates. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2018/08/30/measure-addiction-recovery-rates/

Bennett, C. (2011, December 01). The 4 Most Common Causes Of Addiction Relapse. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dispositions-of-relapse_n_988137