How Do Triggers Impact My Substance Use?

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How Do Triggers Impact My Substance Use?

Substance use triggers are very real and, if in recovery, often put the individual back in a mindset where they want to use the substance again. Triggers can be social, environmental, or emotional situations. Whatever the trigger may be, the likelihood of using the substance increases. Cravings may become too much to bear, and the individual may give in to using the substance they have been avoiding for so long. There are many types of triggers. Here are a few:

  • External
    • People
    • Places
    • Things
    • Situations
  • Internal
    • Emotions
      • Negative feelings
      • Neutral feelings
      • Positive feelings
      • Asking questions

Recognize and avoid

If you are in recovery from drug or alcohol use, it’s essential to know what your triggers are. If you are unaware of your triggers, there is no way that you will be able to avoid them. If you’re more impacted by environmental triggers like places, smells, or sounds, you need to be aware of the environments you put yourself in. If social triggers bother you, you must be conscious of who you hang around. If you are more triggered by emotions, you must reduce your stress as much as possible and try to prevent feeling lonely or anxious. Whatever your triggers are, it’s essential to be able to recognize and avoid them. 

Downward spirals

If triggers are not avoided, they can be quick to cause a downward spiral. Here is what a downward spiral may look like:

  1. Emotional trigger

You may be feeling anxious or depressed, which can cause you to be triggered. 

  1. Escape

Once you are triggered, you may turn to a substance to escape that triggered feeling.

  1. Limbic system

Once you use to escape, the limbic system is activated and floods the brain with dopamine.

  1. Dopamine

Soon, your brain begins to tolerate the dopamine that it’s given.

  1. Less reward

This leads to less pleasure when you get the same amount of the substance the next time. This leads you to crave and be triggered again. The cycle then starts over. 

Rewiring your brain

Although relapses happen, it’s important not to get discouraged. Our brains have neuroplasticity: the ability of our minds to change. Thus, you can rewire your brain. It takes practice, though. Here are some ways that we can rewire our brains:

  • Set goals
  • Recognize your triggers
  • Make a conscious decision not to use
  • Look for pleasure outside of the substance

Doing these things helps to strengthen new pathways and create healthier habits. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t complete all your goals on the first try — it’s complicated. Try to prepare to rewire your brain by doing these things: 

  • Avoid substances
  • Do other positive and healthy things
  • Exercise
  • Seek help outside of yourself

During your time at Pinnacle Recovery, you will learn new ways to rewire your brain to healthier and happier habits. Call now to see how we can help you today at 1-866-301-0573. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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