After completing treatment for substance abuse, it is normal and usual to re-enter the world and have a momentary panic about how to apply your learnings to real-world scenarios. Coping with triggers can be challenging immediately following treatment; however over time and with practice, it will likely become progressively easier to put yourself in different situations. In the meantime, there are some key methods to practice that will help get you to a place where you feel more comfortable either facing triggers or setting boundaries.
In many other definitions of the word, a distraction can be construed as negative because it would mean you are delaying yourself from facing a problem that you will eventually have to face. In this case, however, distractions can be a helpful mechanism and can potentially create positive new habits. When coping with triggers following addiction treatment, there are many positive, uplifting and fun things to do that will take your mind off your newfound sobriety.
One example of a positive distraction might be taking your talents outdoors! Adding an hour-long brisk walk or hike to your daily routine can be a very positive distraction from any triggers you may experience during the day. Whether you go on a solo walk on your own and listen to a podcast, or you walk alongside a friend or family member, getting fresh air is always a healthy and enjoyable way to spend your free time. If the climate is not in your favor, you can always add a light, refreshing indoor workout to your routine where you can spend some time moving your body. Whether you are into a full HIIT workout regimen or you would simply like to stretch and practice meditation, it is always nice to set aside some time to focus on your body and mind throughout the day.
Other people may have a more difficult time enforcing distractions in the evening time as opposed to during the day. Some positive distractions for a nice, sober evening may include going to the movies, streaming/playing video games with friends online, attending a sober event such as trivia night or bowling, hosting a sober game night, attending a concert, or reading an interesting book. There are many ways to positively distract from your sobriety – it is simply about finding what works for you.
Avoiding High-Risk Situations
Another way to start coping with triggers is by avoiding high-risk situations. Avoiding risky situations immediately following addiction treatment can be imperative to the success of your addiction recovery. Think about how it feels to graduate from college and enter into the real world. It takes some time to get acclimated to the sudden, major change that just occurred in your life, right? The same applies to re-entering the world after addiction recovery at rehab.
What’s considered ‘high-risk’ will vary for each person. What one person sees as high-risk, another may find that same situation to be a comfort. Some potential high-risk situations may include driving passed a bar or club that you used to frequent when you were using, seeing certain people who may have had a negative influence on you, spending a lot of time completely alone, attending a party that a friend is throwing, being with family or friends who drink heavily during the holidays, etc.
As circumstances arise, you will learn what may be triggering for you and what you feel that you need to avoid at the moment. If you feel like driving past your local bar is triggering, discover a new route. Know that as you are coping with triggers, what triggers you today is not always permanent. As time goes on, you may feel progressively more comfortable with your sobriety, and therefore things that once triggered you may not act as triggers anymore.
Lastly, when coping with triggers, you may feel that you respond to friends and family in a different way than you used to. Part of overcoming addiction is teaching those around you about your comfort levels and responding to their questions and requests in a way that clarifies the way you are feeling while being conscious of not hurting them in the process – we call this ‘mindful responses’.
For example, if a friend invites you to their 30th birthday dinner followed by a night out at a club, you will have to respond mindfully to this invitation. When responding, it is important to be clear about how you are with your comfort levels at the moment while being conscious of their feelings as a friend who is celebrating a milestone birthday. In this situation, a mindful way to share your concern may be to let them know that you are not yet comfortable to be in that setting, however you would love to take them out for a one-on-one dinner to celebrate the big day. From this response, you are being mindful of their feelings while also protecting yourself.In addition to the stated methods, aftercare is always there for you as you transition out of rehab and back into your life. Harbor Detox offers aftercare as well as a robust alumni program that offers activities, service opportunities, and regular meetings and events that keep you connected to your rehab community as well as hold you accountable for your recovery. These programs are built for people who are looking for ways to cope with triggers outside of rehab and who want to stay connected to a sober community. For more information on our aftercare and alumni programs, call 1 (866) 535-4426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.