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Keeping Triggers and Cravings in Check

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

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Dealing with triggers and cravings is one of the hardest parts of sobriety. It takes time for your brain to adjust to the people and places related to your substance use. This means that during this time your cravings will be intense and learning how to cope with these cravings is essential.

While you’re in both inpatient and outpatient, you will begin to learn your personal triggers. Once these triggers are identified, it is integral to find ways to cope and, as much as possible, avoid these triggers. This blog will suggest some ways to keep your triggers and cravings in check in recovery.

What is a Trigger?

Triggers are different for every person, but, generally, triggers can be people, places, and things that bring on cravings to use. Triggers can vary in severity from intrusive thoughts, to feeling extremely overwhelmed and wanting to escape. For most addicts, the desire to escape causes them to act on their addiction.

More specifically, there are external and internal triggers. Internal triggers take place within the addict. These triggers can make you feel alone, empty, and more. Internal triggers, such as intrusive thoughts, can lead to relapse if not addressed and managed. External triggers refer to outside triggers. Some examples of outside triggers are sounds, smells, tastes, people, places, and events. Finding ways to avoid and cope with external triggers is necessary for functioning day-to-day.

Coping with Triggers and Cravings

Finding ways to cope with your triggers and cravings is essential in maintaining your sobriety. Some ways you can deal with your triggers are:

Distance yourself from friends and family who use

It can be incredibly difficult to stay sober if the ones around you are not. This does not mean you can only have sober friends, but it is important to distance yourself from people who encourage your use or who have used with you in the past. Surround yourself with people who are supportive of your recovery and who can have a positive influence on you. 

Avoid places where drinking is the focus

Hanging out in places, such as bars, where drinking is a requirement for fun is a bad idea. If you are surrounded by people drinking it can be extremely difficult to abstain. Avoiding places that are associated with drug and alcohol use is your best bet at remaining sober, especially in early recovery.

Acknowledge when you are craving

Noticing and acknowledging that you are having cravings is important in moving past them. Knowing that this feeling will pass and that you can push past the urge to use is essential in recovery. Over time it will most likely become easier to push past cravings, but it does involve constant effort and self-awareness.  

Talk about your triggers and cravings

Discussing your personal triggers with your loved ones can help you safeguard your sobriety. If the ones around you know what may trigger cravings, they can help you avoid those situations. Furthermore, being upfront with your loved ones about when you are experiencing cravings and allowing them to support you can make you feel less alone when trying to manage your urge to use.

Create a relapse prevention plan

It is always a good idea to create a relapse prevention plan when you leave treatment. Identifying your triggers as well as finding coping mechanisms that work for you is essential in maintaining your sobriety. Spending time to reflect and work with your support system to develop this plan will best prepare you for situations that may trigger cravings and put you at risk for relapse.

Learning to Keep Triggers and Cravings in Check at Design for Recovery

Design for Recovery is a sober living housing in Los Angeles where you can learn to cope with your cravings. Design for Recovery offers a structured, safe environment to become more secure in your sobriety. Residents work hard daily to develop new skills, values, and coping mechanisms for dealing with triggers in sobriety. During this process, residents develop close friendships with their peers and become connected with the Los Angeles recovery community. At Design for Recovery, you can begin to experience life without constant fear of relapse. Allow Design for Recovery to help you build a new life and maintain long-term sobriety.


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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