Man experiencing substance abuse triggers

How to Identify Substance Abuse Triggers

Recovering from substance abuse can be difficult. And while you’re trying to stay sober, there are situations where you’ll experience the urge to use, which can be associated with triggers.

Knowing what triggers your substance abuse can make it easier to avoid the situation and decrease your chances of relapsing. Here’s a guide on how you can identify different triggers for your substance abuse.

What Are Substance Abuse Triggers?

Triggers are things you encounter in your life or within yourself that bring up cravings. This can sometimes be places or feelings where you would normally turn to use your preferred substance. These triggers and cravings can often be difficult to ignore, but learning to do so will stop a relapse.

There are four main types of triggers:

  • Pattern Triggers- any situation, event, or time that calls up your desire for drugs
  • Social Triggers- when you’re with a specific person or group of people
  • Emotional Triggers- when feelings make you want to engage in substance abuse
  • Withdrawal Triggers- when your body and brain are reacting to the absence of the substance

A great way to identify your triggers is to start with a list of common ones, then circle the ones that pertain to your substance abuse history. Some common triggers to look for include:

  • Holidays, vacations, or special occasions
  • Sports events
  • Being in a casino
  • People you used drugs with in the past
  • Someone offering you drugs
  • Feeling tired, stressed, or sad
  • Not having anything to do or feeling bored
  • Feeling lonely
  • Watching movies about substance use
  • Listening to music that was a part of your substance abuse experiences
  • Weddings, funerals, graduations, or family reunions
  • Work stress or accomplishments
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Memories of trauma

With this base list, you can identify your triggers and avoid those situations. You can also devise a plan to avoid your triggers and relapse.

Read More About Substance Abuse Triggers