The Power of Triggers

Humans naturally do things out of habit. Everyday tasks are often done without much planning because we like to do things the same; we like consistency. Thinking about our everyday triggers may give us a glimpse into how hard it is to fight a drug habit.

Triggers in Everyday Life

Our lives are often filled with triggers. Fortunately, many of our triggers get us to do things that we should. Experts explain that many of our normal, everyday motions are a result of triggers. The human brain is an expert at learning responses to stimuli. Our brains associate certain activities with things around us, such as sounds, smells, feelings, and motions.

Most of us start to feel hungry when we smell something good. Sitting at a red light, we jerk our foot to the gas pedal when we feel cars around us start to move, even if we don’t see the light turn green. For some people it might be that when they eat, they feel the urge to turn on the radio, or when grilling, they want to grab a beer. These triggers connect with our brain in a way that reminds us to do an activity, whether there is a good reason to do it or not.

Of course, with most of these things, we can make ourselves overcome the trigger if we think about it and rationalize why we have that urge. When a person has an addiction, especially to a substance like drugs or alcohol, those triggers become nearly impossible to resist.

Triggers for Addiction

For many smokers, getting into their vehicle is a trigger to light up. Other people are compelled to use drugs whenever they have a drink of alcohol. Others want to use when they see their ex or a certain friend, and often times emotional triggers like feeling stress or disappointment or anger can make someone use.

Because triggers play such a big role in a drug addict’s life, many treatment programs are designed to help the person deal with the triggers. In many cases, a recovering addict will need to start over with a new group of friends, maybe a new job, and even new neighborhood. Avoiding triggers can help a great deal when someone wants to stay sober.

Managing Triggers

Other times, avoiding a trigger isn’t an option. Some people’s spouses are their trigger, or a certain room in their house that they can’t just leave. For many people, stress and negative feelings will continue to show up for the rest of their lives, making it necessary to work through the triggers, rather than avoid them.

It is possible for a recovering addict to fight through a trigger, and knowing that the trigger exists is a good first step. Researchers estimate that cravings from triggers last for 2 minutes, and if a person is aware of that and can take their mind off their substance for that long, they will feel much better. Most treatment programs help patients learn to avoid triggers or fight them in order to help the person maintain sobriety.