Chip and Veronica answer your questions on how to deal with alcohol and drinking triggers.
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In recovery, we all will experience huge emotional and physical triggers that can push us toward old unhealthy behaviors.
Something will come along that will trigger you, and that’s not a sign of a bad recovery, it’s just how life is sometimes.
We’re in this for the long haul, and successful sobriety is the work of a lifetime.
Rest assured, this doesn’t mean that you will always feel as triggered as you do in early recovery. Chip and I are decades into recovery, and it’s been a long time since we were worried about whether we would have a drink from one day to the next.
What strengthens your sobriety and gives you the tools to avoid the traps is doing the work. We got to this place by incorporating the deeper work of sobriety into our lives, always ensuring that our toolbelt is well stocked.
From support meetings to following the steps, to always doing the inner work, we continue to prioritize our sobriety, and it’s become second nature.
Today we’re answering listener questions about managing unavoidable triggers and maintaining your sobriety when faced with triggering situations.
What are some tips for dealing with triggering people, places, or things that we simply can’t avoid? Do triggers ever go away, or do we just get used to them?
“You’ll get ambushed if you don’t give it enough thought.” – Chip Somers
When it comes to family gatherings, holidays, and work events, sometimes we just can’t get out of it, even though we know they will be triggering.
When it comes to family gatherings, holidays, and work events, sometimes we just can’t get out of things, even though we know they will be triggering.
The way to get through with your sobriety intact is with intentional preparation.
- Step 1: Once you identify the unavoidable triggering event, talk about it with someone supportive of your sobriety.
- Step 2: Accept that people behave predictably, so if they have been problematic in the past, chances are that they will be again.
- Step 3: Create a plan to protect yourself and your sobriety before you go to the event. Work through the potential dangers and trigger people and situations that you need to minimize your exposure to.
What goes into a strong plan? Here are some strategies that we’ve found to work:
- Find out who will be there and the type of event so you can prepare appropriately
- Have an exit strategy (excuse to leave and transportation) that doesn’t involve the people present at the event. Make sure without a shadow of a doubt that you can exit that event whenever you want.
- Ideally, go with someone who supports your sobriety. If that’s not possible, check in with a supportive person before, during, and after the event.
- Share your plan with a supportive person so they can provide some accountability.
- Bring your own drink if it’s safe options are unlikely to be available.
Bottom line: do whatever you need to do to avoid drinking.
We are adults with choices and resources. People may be upset with our decision to stay only two hours or not participate in drinking games, but we have to learn to be okay with that.
Triggered by content
Sometimes I’m triggered by the content in my AA or sober support meeting, and the urge to drink awakens. What is all that?
“Wasn’t it great when we did this?”
There’s a euphoric recall that addicts can get into, and it plays with your head.
You look back with a rose-colored lens, feeling like things were so nice when you drank or used. That’s usually triggered by some encounter with alcohol that triggers your nostalgia, and unfortunately, in that state, we forget about the consequences that came with the substances.
We should all expect that alcohol will be thrust into our faces wherever we go. Whether it’s television, radio, or a thousand other places, the alcohol industry is doing its best to trigger you and get you to have a drink.
Since it’s everywhere, your only option again is to prepare appropriately. What does that look like?
Once you recognize the feeling, tell someone who understands.
The act of voicing your desire to someone supportive in the sober community takes away much of its power. Keeping it secret only causes it to fester and grow.
Bonus tip: If you find yourself in a meeting where people sit around reminiscing about drinking or moaning about not being able to drink, it’s time to find a new meeting where people focus on how to work the steps and how that changed their lives.
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