Triggers – – Part 1

Every addiction, without exception,  has “triggers,”  situations,  people,  places and/or things that have the potential to make us want to use. Well,  there’s an old saying in the rooms: “Just because the gun has a trigger,  it doesn’t mean you have to pull it.”

I hear folks in meetings say things like,  I went to such-and-such (did such-and-such,  saw such-and-such)  and it triggered me and I relapsed.  Let me digress here and tell you a little story.

When I was about 4 weeks sober,  I was in the supermarket to buy cat food and got to the beer aisle.   I wandered down the aisle,  looking at the various prices and brands,  and didn’t want to drink – –  even for a second.  Wow!

I was real proud of myself,  and at IOP I told my therapist,  an old hardnose named Ron,  about my triumph.  His reply,  in characteristically colorful language,  was “You stupid f***!  They don’t keep cat food in the beer cooler!”

I got the point. I’ve since learned that one of the fastest ways to begin the slide back into addiction is to run those little tests for ourselves.   Even though we may not feel the urge,  each little exposure takes us that much closer to the idea of acting out. Repeated studies have shown that we get a little “hit”  in the reward center of our brain when we even think about things related to our addiction.  Enough of those hits,  and we may decide we need more…and more….

So triggers really do have an effect,  and they really are dangerous.  It behooves us to learn ways to avoid those little tests,  rather than purposely putting ourselves in position to get those little hits.  Drunks need to stay away from the beer cooler,  sex addicts should probably avoid the gym at certain hours,  and overeaters might consider staying away from the part of the rack with the gourmet magazines.  Tomorrow I’ll discuss some tried-and-true ways to stop those little fires before they start.

Have a happy Saturday,  and

Be careful out there!

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