Personal Story on actual triggers I encountered in addiction recovery: You feel it come on without a warning. A trigger swells up the insides and begins to corrode the arteries of your ever-fleeting indulgences. Swooping in and gripping you by storm, remembering back… all the bad things, the trials and tribulations, why did I do it? Maybe one more wouldn’t hurt? Nah! But, it’s okay to wonder right? Who knows the real answer to that last question?
I see an ad on TV for diabetes and they bring out hypodermic needles for insulin to enhance their promotion. But, what the advertiser doesn’t know is that the one thing they are promoting to me is an affirmation or reservation for my addiction.
I begin to feel it–the trigger swarms–and the swelling now turns to bruises. Blood is feeling infected inside my body, like an awful ant hill I’ve fallen into and can’t quench the itch. I begin to feel itchy all over again.
I wonder and start to panic: How do I feel like I am going through withdrawals but and still completely clean? This is a terrible feeling! Now, with every poke and prod I watch the television a little bit longer. Unable to shy away, the itch turns to a callous with an unrelenting demise. I feel jabbing of my bruised and calloused arm a little bit more as the pain deepens from irritation of skin, to an irritation of the soul. Deeper and deeper they go, it is completely unrelenting! It was forcefully contending the battle between id and ego, as my inner demons strike it out!
I can’t escape the feeling; I don’t even contemplate why it came on, but it’s there now. All I do is I bite the hand that feeds me a little bit harder instead.
Hoping for deliverance from this evil I begin to question the ethics of my life, the feelings I live within my morality:
Why? Who? What? Where? When will this stop? Would one more really hurt? Would it really hurt? Would one time really matter? Ah!
The answer to all of this truly is yes… all it takes is just one time. But, am I able to shy away from the trigger I hold beneath my fingertip. Shoot and die, or release and walk away from the temptation?
So now I debate, contemplate, and re-evaluate everything normal I’ve felt as this swelling trigger begins to bleed. As soon as I think that I can’t escape the mass emotion that is encapsulated me from the beginning of this 45 second TV commercial it’s now absolutely gone. “Hey Disney Land!” I scream. My mind is in a thousand different places after being fixated on one swooping landslide. And now, I’m back to a different land. “Welcome to Oz!” as another commercial with James Franco pops on. Hearing the popcorn from either the microwave or my brain rattle, it’s all too surreal!
And like that, the feeling is gone, just as fast as it came on. The trigger was there with nothing more than to cause irritation and belittlement to my psyche. It simply, vanished. “Poof, crackle, pop!” My brain kicks into another gear. My mind has moved on again and the blood begins to dry itself like a mutilated scab. With enough picking, it will come back… it will!
Getting myself up from the couch and out from in front of the television during commercials I go into the kitchen for a glass of OJ. Man, how I love Orange juice! Even if the citric acid makes my stomach feel itchy and I get a set of sugar rushes. OJ just tastes so good! Maybe a slight addiction to OJ, but some of the time it can be healthy! It’s a fruit, why not?
I remember staying with my parents this weekend and the OJ is kept in the bottom crisper of their refrigerator. The bottom crisper is one place I dread to go. But in past experiences I was so accustomed to welcoming myself to the assortment of “Dad’s beer” and “Mom’s vodka” down there it felt like history repeating! I go to open the fridge and head for the bottom crisper. “Screwdriver!” I scream, as Orange juice wasn’t the only additive I was thinking about. Vodka and Orange juice was my favorite. How could they still keep this here? I begin to place blame, I become angry and my addiction makes me angrier. Who should I be angry at? I don’t know! It’s just all so irritating. And the vicious cycle of triggers start all over again and I’m enthralling to rage. It was all just a cause of finding somewhere to place my blame!
Explanation to Triggers: What does a trigger feel like? To many it feels like a bruise that wont go away when you want it to, but to emotionally you’re too distracted to move on. Sometimes you’re simply just awaiting the very next trigger. Triggers are very common things in early addiction, and sometimes people with months or years into recovery may have a slight trigger.
For me, up until 3 to 3 ½ years into my recovery I still had the massive fear of getting my blood drawn. I wasn’t afraid of getting my blood drawn because I would pass out or was scared of needles; it was quite the opposite feeling that I got actually. I was afraid to get my blood drawn because I thought that I would enjoy the sensation of needle too much!
But, living with certain chronic health ailments I was forced getting my blood drawn multiple times a week sometimes. The addiction had a big wear and tear on my body, and I can say I was never really that great at taking care of myself. That is until I really dove into learning and loving within recovery. So, it was something I had to work out to live a healthier life and have a healthier mindset.
Sometimes we call such things holding us back, reservations. This is one term that many support groups say we should work on. Other times you can argue that your brain is just ‘triggered’ to go off when certain ‘stimuli’ (activities etc.) happen around you.
Some of these ‘triggers’ are feelings you were once accustomed to during your addiction but now are encountering clean. “Old places, old faces” like they say, right?
When this happens how do you tell your body and mind not to something that you know now you cannot and should not do, but are “triggered”/compelled due to similarities to feel the exact opposite; especially with all of the years of reinforcement you learned during active abuse!
Ways to Cope as Family and Addict: After encountering the story I described above my parents would put a lock and key on alcoholic beverages, in a safe room, as guided by a substance abuse counseling staff member. That is just one thing that would help when I didn’t know how to control these emotions early on. Like they say, “out of sight; out of mind.” This can be a useful tip for helping anyone you know or are living with that has addiction issues, unless you want to give it up 100% too.
There are plenty of prevention acts to be taken and can be done, but each are individualized to your loved ones addiction itself. So take the right precautions to stop setting someone or yourself up for triggers. Don’t associate with old names and faces, because those in themselves can be more horrible of a trigger than any marketing scheme can throw at you, sometimes!
When things do arise make sure you have your support system ready, no matter what, where, or when it is. If your peace is holding your serenity chip, praying, or making a phone call to someone who knows what’s going on then make sure those tactics are readily available. Whatever gets you through as long as you don’t use or abuse! Remember hope can guide you in the right direction, and knowing is half of the battle.
If you personally know someone that battle through, after, or with addictions you may need to be ready to embrace a trigger healthily, too. Make sure you know that these feelings are normal and over time they WILL pass! It does get better! It does get BETTER!
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