Tag Archives: triggers

Tag Archives: triggers


Can social media trigger our recovery?Consider the following story:

Lori Wilson (a fictitious name is used) was seeking outpatient treatment for addiction recovery. She’d already completed residential treatment, but when she started returning home each night from therapy, however, she didn’t feel quite comfortable with the open space and schedule that she suddenly had. She was used to the routine of her residential program; she began spending countless hours on Facebook and other forms of social media – and while it seemed harmless at first, her mental health started to decline, and she noticed herself experiencing more cravings than she did when social media didn’t have such an active presence in her life. Why is this?

Social media in and of itself can be detrimental to our mental, physical and spiritual health if used in excess and for the wrong reasons. In 2016, the Daily Dot, a website that provides the latest information on technology and internet culture, noted the many ways that social media can bring us down:

  • We may begin to pick up a social media addiction, which only replaces the addiction that we’re now working towards recovering from
  • Sleep deprivation can occur if we’re up all hours of the night tending to social media
  • There is so much information on the internet; so much, in fact, that we can easily become overwhelmed by the countless people, places and things to look into
  • If we begin comparing ourselves to others, we may find greater pings of anxiety and depression
  • Since America does have a “party culture”, it’s not uncommon to witness drugs and alcohol being glamorized via social media
  • Misinformation is a major culprit when it comes to the internet – and could lead us down some very dangerous paths regarding detox or alternatives to treatment
  • And more

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research conducted a study of 259 individuals in addiction recovery and found that most participants used social media daily. To make the most of social media, consider downloading an app that supports recovery – and connect with others who are working hard towards sobriety, too.

Cumberland Heights in Murfreesboro Tennessee is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals age 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Guide to triggers, relapse, and the beginning of recoveryWe can’t predict what’s going to happen throughout the day, and sometimes distressing thoughts, feelings or situations will come up. We may receive bad news about something that meant a lot to us, we may feel a sudden mood shift or our thoughts and feelings may stem from a spontaneous trigger. There are so many questions we could answer about when and where these feelings occur, and, for those in addiction recovery, these distressing sensations could lead to relapse. Relapse is a common fear for many in recovery and, although it’s a normal part of the process, those who relapse tend to view it as a major setback. Relapse is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a “return to drug use after an attempt to stop”. If you’re in recovery, how can you effectively work through both distress and relapse, should it arise?

Types of Triggers

First, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what can trigger us. The Fix highlights two main types of triggers: external and internal. External triggers are what happens outside of us. These are things we can’t control. Here are some examples:

External Triggers

  • People – running into someone whom you used to abuse substances with, receiving a phone call from someone who used to sell drugs to you, etc.
  • Places – passing by a house you used to get high in, attending a club you used to get drunk at, sitting in your living room where you used to use drugs, etc.
  • Things – finding a bottle of wine in the fridge upon your return home from treatment, noticing some unused painkillers in your significant other’s medicine cabinet, seeing smoking-related objects in a store, etc.
  • Events – holidays, birthdays, times of the day when a person used to abuse substances, etc.

Now that you know more about situational occurrences, you can become more familiar with internal triggers – or, in other words, what happens inside of us. Internal triggers

Internal Triggers

  • Physical sensations – feeling pain, exhaustion, stress, etc.
  • Thoughts – ruminating, holding onto harsh beliefs, etc.

Triggers and Distress Tolerance: Working Through Difficult Emotions

In psychology, distress tolerance is a person’s ability to work through difficult or “impossible to change” situations. Negative (and otherwise unbearable) emotions can make life seem unbearable; and if we’re not careful in managing distress, we may find ourselves in the throes of even more painful emotions. In early recovery, this is especially important as a person is still becoming accustomed to a life of sobriety.

In a 2017 study, published in the journal Addiction Biology, researchers sought to explore how distress tolerance related to relapse when it came to those in the early stages of recovery. They concluded that low distress tolerance is associated with drug-related reward seeking behaviors – which could lead to relapse. One person shared their story of how external triggers led them to relapse after 3 weeks of sobriety. Here is an excerpt from their story, as stated on aagrapevine.org,

“On my third week I relapsed and drank for several days in a row. The final day was a work event. At the end of the event the company provides wine and beer and everyone parties.”

When we’re faced with these tempting circumstances, how should we handle them? It can feel so hard to ignore the cravings to use substances, especially if they seemed to abate some of your distress before – even if only temporarily. What you must remind yourself is what happens after you relapse. How do you feel? What happens around you? For many people in recovery, this alone is a strong motivator to continue on the path of recovery – because to go back would be too painful.

Tools for Recovery

With so many opportunities for distractions, we must balance ourselves with tools that we’ve gained in treatment. Therapy is a strong component of recovery because it allows you to work through some of the things that have been holding you back with a professional who understands which tactics can help reduce your distress. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, is an excellent approach to recovery because it helps us change our thought processes.

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are great additions to treatment because they promote structure in recovery, as well as connect you with others who are working towards recovery as well. A 2016 study published in the journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine further suggests the following approaches that have helped many in recovery:

  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Guided imagery
  • And more

In recovery, you have to rely – and use – the tools you’ve been given. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but you will only become more confident in your ability to work through triggering thoughts, feelings and sensations by practicing them when it’s necessary. If you’ve been struggling with triggers, you’re not alone – yet there are many people out there who have strengthened their recovery by getting actively involved in treatment, support groups and more.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Holidays: Triggers to Watch Out for This Holiday Season

One of the most central topics of discussion when it comes to addiction recovery is triggers, and this is because triggers can lead to lapse and relapse. When a person lapses, they revert back to the addictive behaviors they exhibited when their addiction was active. It’s one of the trickiest areas of recovery because a person has to learn over time what triggers cravings to use and what steps they need to take to prevent it. Even in recovery, life challenges will arise. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the fact that we need to take a more trauma-informed approach to recovery, especially during the holidays, because there are so many people who could be affected by critical events that are going on, such as:

  • Major conflicts within their family
  • Homelessness
  • Loneliness
  • And more

For so many years, movies and songs have given us this expectation that the holidays should be the happiest times of the year. Ads show pictures of happy families gathering around the dinner table, yet there are so many people who are unable to see family members or even have access to food. Addiction recovery requires that we’re especially cautious to how we’re feeling, as the holidays can bring up a lot of thoughts or feelings that can trigger a lapse or relapse. This holiday season check in with yourself, especially if you experience any of the following:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Extreme happiness
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness

Sometimes the holidays can remind us of what we don’t have, and this can lead to rumination or being down on ourselves. You must remember that holidays are just days, and they will come and go. So many other people are working hard this holiday season on their recovery, so you’re not alone – create a list of people you can call and a safe place that you go if you need to regain your balance and serenity. Focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t – it’s easy to compare ourselves to others, but the reality is that everyone is on their own unique journey, and there’s simply no way to compare; the trials and tribulations one individual faces may be completely different from what another person goes through.

Prep yourself up for the holidays by highlighting how far you’ve come. Remind yourself of the journey you’re on, and consider all the beautiful people and opportunities that have presented themselves to you up to this point.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.


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