On leaving a rehabilitation facility to begin their newly-sober life, any individual who has dealt with addiction issues will have fear. The concern is that, as they try to begin their life anew, they will find themselves faced with triggers that may persuade them to relapse. These triggers can take many forms and can arise in the most unexpected ways and places. For any individual who is leaving rehab, there can be a concern over how they will handle the first time they are confronted with one of these triggers.
What forms do outside triggers take?
Outside the controlled environment of a rehabilitation facility, a trigger can influence an individual to turn away from the positive decision they have made to stop using. Even if the individual does not return to using drugs or alcohol, the temptation can place stress and strain on them that impairs their ability to lead a life free from the perils of addiction. Triggers take three primary forms: Internal, External, and Sensory.
An internal trigger is one perpetuated by a situation in the individual’s life, where they are motivated to use alcohol as a crutch by the feeling that this will make the situation easier to deal with. An example of such a trigger will be when the individual is anxious about a job interview and has a few drinks to calm their nerves.
For people who have managed to overcome addiction, the power of places, people, and activities can be very strong. An old friend with whom the individual used to drink, or a certain location where they used to get drunk, can have a powerful triggering impact.
Sights, sounds, and even smells can be highly evocative of memories from using substances in the past and can be the trigger that makes them use that substance again. The smell of a particular drink that one used to enjoy can be a trigger; so too can a song that used to often be playing when they were dependent on alcohol.
How do you deal with triggers once you leave rehab?
Addiction is complicated. It doesn’t come from any one thing or place. Therefore, fighting back against triggers needs to take this into account. The more strings someone has to their bow, the better they will be able to deal with triggers and continue with their hard-won sobriety. To deal with triggers, it is recommended that a range of options should be on offer to the former user. These will usually include some of the following:
An individual leaving rehab should not rely on willpower alone to resist cravings. When one moment of temptation can be enough to derail a recovery that has been months in the making, prescription medications such as Naltrexone or Disulfaram can play a major part in quieting those cravings.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Where drug and alcohol use is highly pattern-based, as it often is, CBT can be highly effective in helping an individual develop a coping strategy to deal with triggers. The individual can recognize the threat of relapse and redirect their energies into another activity that keeps them away from using.
The advent of the digital era has offered increased tools in the battle against relapsing. Many facilities are now offering access to an app that allows individuals to access help from their phone, so no matter where they are they can find recovery support when they need it most. These same apps may also be able to direct an individual to their nearest support group meeting.
Peer group support
For rehab to be truly successful, the individual may need support that continues for some time after the initial experience. Group support structures, such as AA meetings or 12-step programs, can give an individual the reinforcement they need to stay clean and sober. Having a “sober friend” may be part of this process.
Breaking an addiction is not a simple process; the cravings, temptations, and feelings that surround the experience of dependency are complicated. Weeks, months, and even years after an individual leaves rehab, a trigger can bring them to the point of relapse. Beating addiction is a lifelong challenge, but it does get easier and there will always be help available for those who require it. To understand the complex nature of addiction, both in the physical and mental spheres, it is always useful to speak to someone with expertise who can help you identify your high-risk areas and help you formulate a plan to deal with them. Call us to see how Evolve Indy can help you.