3 Tips to Avoiding Substance Abuse Triggers in Recovery

Wondering How to Cope with Substance Abuse Triggers in Recovery? Learn More Today.

Making the transition from addiction to sobriety will have its good and bad days. There may be times when you might crave a drink or your drug of choice, and you will have to resist those urges. You may also encounter triggers that will remind you of when you used to get high, like meeting a former friend you used to get high with, or perhaps passing a head shop where you used to buy drug paraphernalia. There may also be days when you are stressed out and would like to take the edge off with a drink or a hit, or just escape from some problem you are dealing with at the moment. Life is tough and substance abuse triggers can make it even tougher for recovering addicts. Coping with triggers in recovery will take some thought and strength, but you are tough and you can withstand the temptations when you know how to:

1. Your Triggers

The first thing you have to know is what your triggers are. Once they are identified you will be able to manage them, or avoid them altogether. Addicts often have different triggers but some common ones are:

  • Payday is usually the day an addict will go out and spend his money on getting high. Often times the addict feels that he deserves a treat for having to work hard all week. This learned behavior and its accompanying reward mindset may still be operating in you, even though you have completed rehab and are living sober. You will have to realize that this way of thinking is not healthy or based on fact, and it should be replaced with logic and a healthy alternative.
  • Passing a bar, seeing drug user friends or the places you used to get high can also be triggers.
  • Stress, pain, sickness, arguments, family or money problems, or a sad and negative mindset can also be triggers that can entice you to get high.

You will find that coping with triggers in recovery means knowing what the triggers are and having a plan in place to manage them. As soon as you feel the suggestion in your mind, you should automatically go into safety mode. Call a trusted friend to talk to, go for a walk or other physical activity, but do something that will take your mind off the trigger. Triggers can initiate emotions that usually last for 15 minutes or so, and although there may be times when it can feel difficult – you can hold out.


Remember the acronym HALT, which stands for: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. It is at these times that you can be vulnerable to a relapse, so you should avoid them at all costs. Begin a healthy regimen of eating nutritious food and make sure you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Get enough rest and exercise to remain strong both physically and mentally. Do not allow yourself to get lonely or isolate yourself. Get out and enjoy other people that support your sobriety. Go to support group meetings and socialize with other recovering addicts. And last, but not least, let go of any anger that you may harbor. We all make mistakes in life, so go easy on yourself and others. Learn to forgive other people’s iniquities and realize that they are lost. Lastly, learn to forgive yourself for all the senseless things you did in the past, and be thankful that you are still alive, more enlightened, and have a second chance at life to get it right. These are all important coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction that you will need to avoid a relapse.

3. Be Selective

There will always be substance abuse triggers lurking somewhere, so you have to be prepared for how you are going to manage them when they appear. Be very selective with the friends that you make, the places you go to, and all the other things in life that affect your mind. Propaganda is everywhere whether you realize it or not. Do not buy into negative thinking from anyone or anything. Brainwashing can occur through the media, the arts and entertainment, marketing campaigns, or the man on the street. Protect your mind from anything that makes you feel angry, sad, confused or lost. You are in control of your life, so don’t let anyone usurp you. Stay positive, focused and strong and you will be able to fend off any substance abuse triggers.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.