We’re sure by now you’ve heard the phrase “people, places, and things.” But why are these so important, and what do they have to do with addiction and recovery?

The phrase “people, places, and things” refers to triggers.

What’s a trigger?

In mental health terms, a trigger refers to something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress and is commonly related to trauma. In terms of addiction, triggers are the problematic cues that lead to a craving, which is a strong (often overwhelming) desire to obtain and use your substance of abuse.

Explaining Addiction Triggers

If you feel like you cannot get a handle on your triggers, or you are concerned about the risk of relapse, don’t keep those worries to yourself. Reach out! You can reach out to us directly on 01795 431751.

People, and even animals, learn to respond to triggers through a process called: Conditioning. (Thank you, Pavlov!)

People, place, and thing triggers develop in the same way. The “high” of drugs and alcohol produces a strong reward reaction. Since the brain is programmed to seek out and repeat rewarding activities, it remembers every detail of the experience.

These can be:

Who you are with.
What you are doing.
Where you are.
What time it is.
How you were feeling before and are feeling during use.

Relapse Prevention

If you can identify your triggers (try making a list) the next step is learning to cope with them. There are skills you can use, that you would be taught by the professionals at The Recovery Lodge. Here are some examples:

Avoidance. If a person, place, or thing makes you want to use, avoid it. Stay away when possible.

Talking about it. By discussing the triggers, when they present, and how they make you feel in a supportive setting, you begin to take control back from the trigger.

Going with it. Cravings come and go, and fear only makes the feeling stronger. Rather than seeing triggers as scary stimuli, this strategy views triggers and cravings as temporary problems that can be overcome with time and patience.

By changing your interactions with the people, places, and things that produce cravings, you will be able to limit their power over you. By staying aware of what affects you most and learning coping tools, you’ll be able to maintain your sobriety more easily.

People – Explained

Your people triggers can include a surprisingly wide range of people from your past and present like:

Your parents.
Other family members, both living and deceased.
Current or former romantic partners.
People with whom you used.
People from whom you bought drugs.
People triggers don’t include only those who were present when you used; they are also the important people in your life who are capable of creating strong emotional responses.

Places – Explained

Many of the places that trigger you will make perfect sense. If you drank heavily at a certain bar for many years, you will likely be triggered by that bar. However, others may surprise you, and there is no way to accurately predict all triggers. Depending on your habits and type of substance used, place triggers can include:

Alleys or abandoned buildings.
Fields and wooded areas.
Bars or clubs.
Your childhood home.
Doctor’s offices.
Parking lots.
A friend’s house.
Concert venues or sports stadiums.

Things – Explained

As the largest category, thing triggers include everything else that creates cravings. Things can be drug paraphernalia, a movie, an album, a certain day of the week, or food, for example.

Thing triggers also include:

Patterns like:
Going to a party.
Studying for a test.
Getting paid.
Feelings like:
High stress.
Happiness and excitement.

Another experience that has the potential to produce severe cravings is withdrawal. Rather than a psychological trigger, the experience of withdrawal is a physiological trigger.

How To Access Treatment

You need to be completely honest with yourself. Do you have a problem? Do you need help?

If your answer is yes, please contact us on 01795 431751 to discuss the treatment options available.

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We provide a healthy environment uniquely suited to support your growth and healing.

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