Upsetting things happen and create distress. Recovering people seem to have more than their fair share of distress. In order to recover, they will need to learn to cope with these distressing situations. Topics that commonly arise in addiction treatment are relationship problems; shame; guilt; self-centeredness; grandiosity; loneliness and isolation; low self-esteem; stress; parenting problems; employment problems; and the need to be in control when control is not possible. Unless people improve their ability to cope with these distressing circumstances, the risk of relapse remains high. This is because addictive behavior often serves as a person’s only coping response. Therefore, recovery needs to focus on developing new coping skills so people do not need to rely on their addiction. Some coping strategies include social support, anger management skills, stress management, emotional regulation skills, spiritual practices such as meditation and prayer, physical activity such as walking, distraction such as entertainment, and professional treatment of underlying disorders. Self-monitoring is a very basic cognitive-behavioral coping strategy, and it is pretty much at the core of all of the cognitive-behavioral coping strategies described here. In order to address a problem or a symptom, we need to first become aware of it.
Cognitive restructuring is a common cognitive-behavioral coping strategy. How we evaluate and think about ourselves, other people, and events can have a major impact on our mood. Cognitive restructuring focuses on identifying negative thoughts or evaluations and modifying them. This may be done by gathering evidence for and against certain thoughts. By modifying our thoughts, we may be able to improve our mood and make better choices with regard to behaviors. There are healthy ways to cope with difficult triggers, and those suffering can feel reassured they don’t have to give triggers power. One of the most important steps to identifying triggers and managing them in healthy ways is to be self-aware. Being self-aware allows individuals to understand the driving force behind their behavior or the trigger before and after they react.
Practices like mindfulness allow individuals to focus on the right now, placing their mindset in the present moment. This encourages detaching from painful or distressing experiences and can reduce stress. Healthy ways of managing triggers allow individuals to thrive without turning to damaging coping mechanisms that can harm them or others. Individuals with problematic triggers may not know the cause and can benefit from therapy. Therapy or treatment for distressing triggers can reduce the likelihood of one developing troubling compulsions and chemical use disorders.
Therapists in rehab facilities can offer individuals tools and ideas that can be helpful while battling troubling emotions and compulsions. Individuals can learn new and healthy coping mechanisms. Additionally, individuals who suffer from chemical use disorders can find help to decrease the risk of a relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals control their impulses, which can lower compulsions. You need to have a plan in place before you encounter a trigger and experience a craving. Cravings are not permanent and will disappear if you do not give in to them. Second, as you create a plan, approach coping with your cravings from two different angles: internal and external. When you are triggered by a situation and experience a craving, you should follow an internal protocol to extinguish the feeling. This process could look something like recognizing the craving, reminding yourself that the craving doesn’t need to be acted upon, and removing yourself from the situation. However, you’ll also need a strong external support system and other activities to help you continuously cope with these challenges. Let your supporters help you redirect your feeling into something distracting, like exercising, watching a movie, reading a book, or taking a walk. Family, friends, and addiction recovery professionals are essential to help you avoid triggers whenever possible, and provide you with the right coping mechanisms.