Wouldn’t it be great if you knew that completing treatment for a substance use disorder meant that you would never be tempted to use drugs or alcohol again? Unfortunately, that happy idea does not conform with reality.

The fact is that any number of things can threaten to upend your recovery. Often, those things are referred to as “triggers,” but given the connotations of that word, we prefer to use the term “prompts.” 

When you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, it is important to be aware of the people, emotions, physical states, and situations that might prompt you to use drugs or alcohol again. You may not always be able to avoid these prompts entirely, but having an awareness of them can make it easier to deal with them effectively when they arise. 

Let’s take a look at a range of prompts that can all too easily lead to problems for a person in recovery.

When Your Emotions Threaten Your Sobriety

A number of emotions can well up and undermine your recovery. For example, you might find that when you are angry you are tempted to take the edge off by taking drugs or drinking alcohol. You might find yourself considering a similar course of action when you are feeling particularly lonely or sad or when you are experiencing grief

When emotions threaten your sobriety, it can be helpful to ask yourself if there is a way to use the emotion as a spark for accomplishing something positive. For example, are you angry because you feel some situation is unfair to you or others? Are there things you can do to improve the situation? If so, something good can arise from anger. Similarly, if you are experiencing grief, you might be inspired to volunteer for an organization that was important to the person you have lost as a way to honor them.

When Your Body’s Needs Threaten Your Sobriety

We have all had the experience of having our mood take a turn in a decidedly negative direction due to hunger or tiredness or a feeling of lethargy. A dark mood can lead to contemplation of drug or alcohol use.

But it would, of course, be far better to attend to your body’s needs. Make healthy eating choices. Get the rest you need. Commit to getting enough exercise to give your overall energy a boost. Taking care of your body is a great way to support your sobriety.

When Mental Health Disorders or Physical Illness Threaten Your Sobriety

Good mental health and sobriety are intimately connected, so if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, a trauma-based disorder, or another mental health issue, you are putting your sobriety at risk—especially if you have a history of “self-medicating” to deal with the symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Meanwhile, physical illnesses or disabilities can also become prompts for a person in recovery. Maybe you remember that when you were taking drugs you seldom experienced pain, for example. A lingering illness or other physical issues certainly can be an ongoing source of temptation. Additionally, your physical health affects your mental health—which, as we have noted, is directly related to your ongoing sobriety—so that chain of connection can also be a cause of problems.

In these cases, it is extremely important that you pursue treatment for problems that impact your mental or physical health. Taking drugs or drinking in an effort to deal with these issues on your own is simply a shortcut to a relapse.

When Social Situations Threaten Your Sobriety

You might be tempted to hang out with some friends from your time using drugs or alcohol. You might want to visit some of the places where you used to have drug or alcohol-fueled adventures. You might just want to reminisce about the time when drug or alcohol use seemed fun and exciting.

All of that is understandable—and all of those things are bad ideas. Being in the places you used to use substances with the people who used to use them with you is the kind of prompt that can be nearly impossible to withstand. Even the act of looking back on those times fondly can put your recovery at risk.

When Stress Threatens Your Sobriety

Stress is a part of all of our lives, and it comes from a variety of sources. The experience of stress can prompt powerful emotional responses, have an impact on our physical well-being, and threaten our mental health. Too much stress can quickly lead to cravings for drugs or alcohol.

That means it is important to manage stress effectively. Take some time off. Practice mindfulness. Keep a gratitude journal. Make time for coffee with a friend. Some stress is inevitable, but you can find ways to keep it from overwhelming you—and threatening your sobriety.

Get Help Promptly if You are Struggling with Drugs or Alcohol

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, we have the expertise and experience necessary to help you regain your sobriety and start your recovery journey with confidence. We will personalize your treatment plan to meet your specific needs, and you can count on us to offer ongoing support and compassion as you reclaim your sobriety and your life.