What Are Triggers?

August 5, 2022

One of the biggest obstacles people face when they are suffering from a substance use disorder are triggers that cause relapses. Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD explains how to recognize these triggers and avoid relapse.


Dr. Bhatt: Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt with a moment from Straight Talk With The Doc. I want to speak a little bit about addiction and triggers, and how they go hand in hand. One of the biggest things that people face when there’s an obstacle when they’re suffering from addiction or substance use disorders, alcohol or any other illicit drugs, is that they often are triggered and have relapses. So, how we do work with or cope with or deal with the triggers around us?

Triggers come in many different forms, often in persons, places, things or situations that are often external. Or, our own internal emotional cognition, things that we feel, things that we think that could be triggers. The unfortunate part is once drugs or alcohol are introduced into our brains and into our bodies, we don’t know beforehand what that relationship’s going to be. So, it’s molded by positive and negative reinforcements. We take the drug and get some sort of reward or a pleasurable effect or a thought or an action, we’ll tend to use it again. But if a drug or alcohol is introduced and it takes away a bad or negative feeling we tend to use it again as well.

The point is, recognizing these things. So, these things are often helped and worked out in treatment while in rehabilitation. Your therapist, clinician, psychiatrist, a mental health professional in general- somebody trained in addiction can help you make those associations between what are those things in the environment that you live in that could be causing you or helping you or facilitating you to use. Or, making you think a certain way, feeling guilty or shameful or embarrassed by yourself. Or, making you feel depressed or anxious that leads you to cope with or use drugs or alcohol.

There’s a lot of information available on our website here, and if you need help or a loved one needs help, please feel free to explore the website. There are many treatment centers out there that can help and help you achieve long-term sobriety.