Recognizing Triggers

Triggers have many similarities to temptations, but may be more subtle. Triggers may be thought of as preludes to temptations. They may be so closely tied together that no distinction is noticeable. Triggers bring to life the awareness of a connection between feelings, places, people, things, or situations and cravings for one's addiction.

Loneliness may trigger one's craving for the social chaos of a gambling casino. Depression may trigger one's craving for a plate of double fudge brownies. Anger may trigger a craving for the calming effect of Xanax. Marital discord may trigger the craving to escape into the sexual world of the Internet. Driving by one's old high school football stadium may trigger memories of drinking with friends, thus reviving a craving for alcohol.

Triggers are the threshold to relapse and addiction. Triggers cannot be ignored if a recovering addict is to remain in recovery. Knowing one's weaknesses is the first step to being prepared with a strategy for successfully overcoming them.


A recovering addict who has gone through inpatient or partial hospitalization treatment will have received help to develop an aftercare plan. Someone in outpatient treatment, or recovering on her own, can also develop an aftercare plan. Essentially, this is a plan of action, written down, that describes supports to use, coping strategies, and people to call for help when needed.

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