5 Coping Skills to Deal With Triggers of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that professional help is almost always needed in order to recover from an addiction for the long-term. That’s because addiction has a number of underlying causes that must be addressed in order to successfully treat it, and developing coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction is essential for staying sober. 

What Are Triggers?

Addiction triggers are the people, places, emotions, and things that make you want to use drugs or alcohol. Triggers may include the people you used to use with or the places that remind you of using. They may include negative emotions like anger, resentment, or frustration, or they may stem from acute or chronic stress. A fight with a family member might trigger powerful cravings if fighting was once an excuse to use.

Coping with triggers in recovery is a major focus of addiction treatment. High quality treatment centers like WhiteSands Treatment help you develop a toolkit of relapse prevention coping skills and strategies to reduce your risk of relapse.

Here are just five essential–but powerful–coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction.

Reduce your stress

Since stress is a powerful trigger for relapse, reducing stressors in your life is one of the best relapse prevention coping skills you can learn. Reducing your stress may involve getting your finances in order, repairing dysfunctional relationships in your life, keeping your home organized, or being more proactive at work. Consider the things that cause you stress, and think about things you can do to reduce that stress. Reducing your overall stress is essential for success, especially in early recovery.

Breathe deeply

You can’t reduce all of the stress in your life. There will still be days where you’re running late, or the car won’t start, or the air conditioner breaks down. When daily stressors start to take their toll and you feel your blood pressure rising, stop and take some deep breaths. Deep breathing reduces your body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol on the spot, reducing your body’s response to the stress and leaving you feeling calmer and more clear-headed. Learn some deep breathing exercises, and use them when you feel stressed out.

Stay mindful of your thoughts and moods

Thoughts and emotions can run away with you before you know it. Feelings of anger and resentment can seethe below the surface, and you may not even be aware of it. Staying ever aware of your thoughts, attitudes, and emotions is one of the best tools for coping with triggers in recovery. Throughout the day, make a point of assessing your emotional state. Are you hungry? Cranky? Tired? Frustrated? Bored? Lonely? Angry? Try to trace the emotion to its cause, and take action to mitigate the cause and reduce the negative emotion.

Develop new routines

Creating new routines can help reduce triggers in your daily life. If you crave drugs or alcohol most intensely when you first get off work in the evening, try going straight to the gym after work instead of heading home. If you used to drink while you prepared dinner, try listening to music or an audiobook instead to get your mind off it. If staying home alone too much triggers the urge to use, take a class, join a group, or find other ways to get more involved in the community. New routines can be highly effective coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction.

Find a hobby

Boredom, isolation, and loneliness are common triggers for relapse, and combatting boredom with a new hobby can go a long way toward staying sober in early recovery and beyond. Hobbies keep your mind off cravings, and they help you relax and enjoy yourself. They can provide opportunities to meet other people with similar interests, and they improve your satisfaction in life. Think about the things you enjoy doing, and develop a hobby around it.

Treatment helps

During treatment, you’ll develop an entire arsenal of big and small coping skills to deal with triggers of addiction. WhiteSands Treatment can help you learn to cope with the challenges of early recovery to ensure long-term success and improve your quality of life.

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.