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Triggers can be feelings, experiences, people, places, and things that you associate with your drinking or drug use. There are different types of triggers: internal, external, and sensory triggers. All three usually work together to create a craving.

Internal & External Triggers
INTERNAL TRIGGERS are feelings that people have before or during drinking or using drugs. For instance, some people may feel insecure about sex and think they have to drink alcohol in order to relax before having sex. Other people may use drugs when they feel angry, lonely, depressed, sad, or bored – but any feeling can become an internal trigger.

EXTERNAL TRIGGERS are the people, places, and things associated with drinking or using drugs.  For some people, external triggers might be:  places where they bought or used drugs, certain bars and clubs they hung out at while they were drinking or high, people they drank or used drugs with, and even certain days and times, such as Friday nights and holidays.

SENSORY TRIGGERS are related to the senses of sight, sound, taste, and touch. They might include certain styles of music or specific songs, or the taste of a drug. For example, powdered sugar or artificial sweetener, which resembles powdered drugs, can be a powerful trigger for people who used cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin.

The are many triggers in each category that were not mentioned, but once you  have identified your triggers, use some tools like the thought records or talk to someone.  If you are in a self-help program, ask for help in a meeting or with a confidant. You can overcome the power of these triggers with help and prevent a relapse of substance abuse.

Paul Aguirre, CADC – II
AToN Center 888-535-1516