Recognising Cues and Triggers in Recovery

A huge part of addiction recovery is relapse prevention. Addiction is an illness that can be treated and managed but never cured, so those in recovery need to always be alert to the cues and triggers that could initiate a return to addictive behaviours.

Avoiding temptation is crucial, and while some temptations are fairly obvious, others are not so clear-cut. If you are in recovery from alcoholism, you will know that going to the pub after work with your colleagues is probably a bad idea, but you need to be alert to less obvious signals and cues, such as a particular song that you loved at the height of your addiction.

Your resolve will be tested from time to time, and you will find yourself in situations that could leave you feeling vulnerable. Life has a way of throwing up unexpected situations and circumstances that may leave you open to the threat of relapse. It is, therefore, imperative that you are aware of the dangers facing you and that you know how to avoid any temptations where possible.

Avoiding Obvious Temptations

There are certain situations and people that you are going to have to avoid now that you are in recovery. For example, you will have to consider routines that you had in the past that always included alcohol or drugs.

If you always went for a drink at lunch or after work, you are going to have to establish new routines so that you can avoid doing this. Or if you always had a beer when watching the football at your friend’s house, you should consider watching the match at home in your bedroom, especially if this is a room where you never drank. Avoiding places where you used to drink or take drugs is paramount in terms of preventing relapse.

If you pass a bar where you used to go for a drink on the way home from work, then look for an alternative route home; even if that adds a few minutes onto your journey.

You are going to have to avoid the people with whom you used to drink or take drugs too. It is very important that you surround yourself with those who support your recovery and who would never consider sabotaging it. This might mean creating new social media profiles in order to avoid any temptations.

Avoiding Less Obvious Temptations

Not all temptations are so obvious when it comes to avoiding relapse. Adverts for alcohol on the television may trigger a desire to have a drink, but these are more obvious cues, and you can usually pre-empt these and leave the room or change the channel.

However, there are hidden temptations everywhere, even in your food. Be very careful when it comes to meals that are cooked by another person, either a friend or in a restaurant. You should avoid food cooked in alcohol as not all of the alcohol will be eliminated in the cooking process, despite what you may have been told.

Some foods are flavoured with alcohol too, such as deserts and dips – these should also be avoided. While wine vinegar contains only traces of alcohol, it should be avoided because the smell and look of it can be enough to trigger cravings in some individuals.

There are certain foods that people link to alcohol, such as burgers or pizza. If there is a particular food that you always had with a beer or a glass of wine, then you should avoid this, especially in the early days. Any food that you associate with having a drink should be off the menu as this can be just as likely to trigger cravings as a small sip or the smell of alcohol.