Navigating Triggers and Cravings in Sober Living: Strategies for Success
Staying clean after treatment is possible when you establish proactive strategies. However, you may still experience cravings after recovery, and people or places may trigger strong emotional responses.
Create a plan for avoiding triggers and steps for coping to avoid feeling overwhelmed by those emotions.
Learn about five sober living tips to get you started with your personalized strategy for success in long-term sobriety.
What Can Trigger Cravings?
Triggers for cravings are people, places, memories, and things that evoke negative emotions. They usually bring back memories of addiction and trigger cravings. Cravings are a common part of recovery and nothing to feel shame or guilt over.
For example, seeing a bottle of alcohol can remind the brain of being drunk, which can cause it to crave the drink.
While cravings are common, you should still take them seriously. About 60% of people with substance use disorders relapse. However, many also remain sober because they prepare and prevent cravings by knowing and avoiding triggers.
Some common triggers include:
- Negative emotions like stress, grief, depression, or anxiety
- Traumatic events like a job loss or death
- Being in places serving alcohol or where you used drugs or alcohol
- Big events like holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries
- Social events where there tends to be drinks and drugs, like parties or concerts
- Being around others using drugs or drinking
5 Sober Living Tips for Navigating Triggers and Coping with Cravings
What should you do when cravings strike? Here are five relapse prevention strategies to help you create a plan for avoiding and overcoming cravings.
1. Avoid Known Triggers
Make a list of your triggers. If you know certain places and events trigger cravings, you can avoid those places until you feel confident in your ability to cope with the cravings.
Avoiding triggers may mean saying no to social events with drinking or surrounding yourself with friends during difficult times.
You can also book a stay at a sober living home where you can take extended time away from triggers and surround yourself with a supportive community.
2. Leave Triggering Situations
When you find yourself in a situation that triggers cravings, remind yourself you donâ€™t need to give in to those cravings. Cravings arenâ€™t something to feel shame over. Instead, cravings are a sign youâ€™re in recovery and succeeding.
When you do feel cravings, remove yourself from the situation and choose to control your cravings. Itâ€™s ok to leave in the middle of an event.
3. Have On-Call Support
The beauty of recovery groups is building a network of friends who can help you overcome triggers. Having friends, family, therapists, and doctors in your contacts and on your recovery apps puts help right at your fingertips.
While you can remove yourself from situations, sometimes the cravings are too strong to overcome alone. You may also be in a place you canâ€™t leave.
When you have on-call support, you can bring a friend to triggering situations, call them for support during events, and ask someone to help remove you from the place.
4. Build a Community
To better prepare for triggering situations, build a supportive community. For example, you can attend support groups, get together with other men in recovery, and meet with therapists.
Regularly immersing yourself in uplifting groups gives you the tools and resources needed to stay strong in triggering situations.
5. Find Hobbies You Enjoy
Coping with triggers is easier with positive emotions. You can overcome stress and find more joy in a sober life by filling it with hobbies you love.
Do you enjoy reading? Does getting outside on a hike clear your mind? If wrenching on your favorite car or playing sports with friends brings you joy, make those hobbies part of your week.
Exercising and eating healthy also improve your overall well-being and boost your mood, making you stronger when cravings hit.
Find Your Freedom from Cravings
Urges and cravings will come, but you donâ€™t need to be tied down by them. You can find freedom from your cravings by planning to avoid triggers, finding support in difficult situations, and building a healthier and happier life to reduce cravings.
Ethos Recovery helps men find freedom through our resources and sober living home. You donâ€™t have to face your triggers alone. You have a community at Ethos.
Contact us to find your path to long-term freedom.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.