You might be worried that this distraction tactic might come across as rude if you’re out in public. There’s nothing rude about taking care of yourself and avoiding triggers that could lead to a relapse. It’s key to remember that these are not failures and shouldn’t be termed as such.

In these cases, a trigger is anything that prompts an increase in or return of symptoms. Writing down potential triggers can help you more easily avoid them. Intrusive thoughts or other undesirable thought patterns are often the cause of relapse, particularly among those with diagnosed mental illnesses. Addiction is often internal trigger examples the result of those with mental illness self-medicating to reduce the severity or frequency of the symptoms of that mental illness. Keep in mind that while these are popular coping mechanisms, they might not work for everyone. Take the time to figure out what works best for you as part of your personal recovery journey.

Identifying Internal Triggers

Understanding these risk factors will help you to avoid the potential risk of relapse during or following recovery. While it can be difficult to control triggers, those who experience them can learn from past experiences, apply what they learn, and limit the risk of being re-triggered. Avoid only focusing on what happens after a trigger; also focus on what can be done beforehand. Mental health professionals don’t yet know precisely how triggers form. Some researchers believe that the brain stores memories from a traumatic event differently from memories of a non-traumatic event. Once patients have learned to identify their triggers, a plan of action is necessary to help avoid and anticipate the effects.

If you experienced a traumatic event, you likely remember certain sounds, smells, or sights related to that experience. Now, when you encounter these sensory reminders — known as “triggers” — you may get a feeling of anxiety, unease, or panic. It is essential to keep in mind that while many triggers result from negative events or experiences, positive events or experiences can also trigger a relapse. If you are starting to consider relapse, you may find that you are exposing yourself to possible triggers, even subconsciously.

Normal Feelings Trigger Relapse

The way that the brain links memories is a powerful tool that is used to help you recall important information, but that may also affect your recovery process. In session, the client and therapist work through the Trigger Grid, presented in the Appendix as “What triggers me”. Some clients may easily identify their primary triggers, whereas others may require considerable time before they are able to do so.

internal trigger examples

Every one of our team members is certified to address and effectively treat the issues that come along with addiction. Internal triggers come from the person’s inner life and thoughts. Both of these behavior triggers can both be used to build habits. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, Summit Behavioral Health is the place to turn. Do your best to plan meals, engage in mindfulness, seek out social support and stick to a regular sleep schedule.

What Are Relapse Triggers: Internal Vs External Relapse Triggers

For example, they can end relationships with certain people, purposefully avoid certain places, or not attend an event where a particular person will be. Every individual in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction needs to work each day to keep their sobriety. During recovery, each person will encounter triggers that could result in relapse.

For example, a person with contamination-type OCD might be triggered by the sight of a dirty doorknob and react with extreme fear. Or a person with alcohol use disorder might be triggered by the smell of alcohol and suddenly start craving a drink. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone.

Challenging Emotions

Therapy can help people overcome the cognitive challenge of acknowledging the difficulty of recovery but realizing that sustaining an addiction is far harder. To keep emotions from triggering a relapse, people in recovery need to learn coping skills that can be discovered through therapy. Learning to identify cravings and triggers is a crucial step in recovery. You also need to learn new ways to cope with the relapse triggers as well as your cravings so that you can overcome them and avoid relapse. In the context of mental illness, “trigger” is often used to mean something that brings on or worsens symptoms.

If we still want to perform the action after ten minutes of urge surfing, we’re free to do it; but that’s rarely the case. The liminal moment has passed, and we’re able to do the thing we really wanted to do. The behavior that emerges after a trigger can range from relatively minimal (crying) to serious (acts of violence). Someone exposed to a trigger may experience impaired judgment or awareness.

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