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For a person who has been struggling with substance abuse, there are often different things that will trigger them to use substances. When you understand what your triggers are, you will be able to manage them much more effectively. Learning how to navigate your triggers will empower you as you move through your recovery journey.

What Are Addiction Triggers?

According to a 2020 article published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, an addiction “trigger” is anything that initiates a craving response, often shown by individuals who struggle with substance use. Triggers are understood to be stimuli that elicit a certain reaction.

This stimulus can include a triggering event, such as an upsetting conversation with a friend or family member. It can also include triggering images, places, or anything else that may cause someone to consider using substances again.

The same article mentioned above notes that triggers activate drug-related memories, which causes the brain to feel the anticipation of a reward and craving response. Triggers need to be handled effectively and avoided in order to heal from the effects of substance use and maintain lasting sobriety.

Identifying Your Triggers

If you’ve been in the throes of addiction for any amount of time, chances are you know what some of your triggers are. Oftentimes, people try to mask negative emotions and experiences with the “reward” that comes from substance use. 

In order to identify your triggers, consider making a list. What ticks you off? What experiences or conversations have led to substance use? You might feel triggered when you see images on the TV, or even when you visit a certain town or area where you used to use substances. Write any and all of these triggers down.

There is no right or wrong answer to what triggers you. You are a unique individual going through an extremely tough struggle. Remember to be compassionate with yourself as you identify your triggers.

Navigating Your Triggers

When you start to identify your addiction triggers, you can then incorporate different methods to navigate and overcome them. Still, being able to identify your triggers is worth celebrating. Congratulate yourself on getting this far.

Be Honest With Yourself and Loved Ones

Honesty is one of the most important principles of addiction recovery. As you practiced honesty as you identified your triggers, now you have to be honest with the people and situations that may act as a trigger to you. 

You can sit down with your loved ones and have a conversation about your addiction triggers. Let them know that certain experiences or discussions are hard for you and they are best to be avoided at this time. Your loved ones should be supportive and understand that daily life might have to change a little bit in order to best support your sobriety and recovery.

Set Strong Boundaries

Boundaries are extremely important when it comes to navigating your triggers. If your family members are social drinkers, for example, it will be crucial to set a boundary around this in order to help you through recovery. Let your family members know that you will not be present if alcohol will be and that you really need their support during this time.

Also with your loved ones, it’s important to address what types of conversations and experiences may be triggering to you. Let them know your boundaries and how you will have to respond if your boundaries are not being respected. 

Treatment Can Help You to Manage Your Triggers

It can be extremely difficult to deal with addiction triggers on your own. A quality outpatient treatment program will be well-equipped to help you handle and overcome these triggers.

Triggers are the main reason relapse occurs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the potential for relapse is a significant challenge, and an outpatient treatment program should help the client identify personal relapse triggers and learn how to cope with them. 


Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are two popular outpatient addiction treatment programs that specialize in helping individuals overcome their triggers.

PHPs are highly structured and perfect for those who are just beginning their treatment journey. In a PHP, you will dedicate up to 30 hours per week to therapy programming that will help you heal from and manage your triggers.

An IOP is a less intensive treatment track, usually designed for those who have already completed the PHP. In an IOP you will still find the structure and support you need through different therapy modalities to help you handle your triggers in a healthy and effective way.

Recovery Coaching

Recovery Coaching is a wonderful treatment modality to help you deal with your triggers and get true, individualized support. A recovery coach will work with you to help identify your triggers, set necessary boundaries, and celebrate you every step of the way.

At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, each and every client has access to their own personal recovery coach, no matter which outpatient program they are enrolled in. Your recovery coach will be there to support and guide you through your recovery journey, giving you the accountability you need to find lifelong sobriety.

In order to truly heal and overcome addiction, you must be able to identify and overcome your addiction triggers. It’s important to be open and honest with yourself when it comes to handling your triggers, and there is great power in simply realizing what triggers you. At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, our clinically-trained staff is well-equipped to help you identify and heal from your addiction triggers. The Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient programs are designed with high structure and accountability in mind, with various therapy modalities that will help you as you process your triggers and heal from them. At Lighthouse, each and every client has access to their own personal Recovery Coach. A recovery coach will be there to support and guide you as you overcome your triggers, and give you the accountability you need in order to find lifelong sobriety. For more information, give us a call at (214) 396-0259.