5 Things That Triggered Me To Drink and Use and How I Overcame Them
I went to rehab for the first time in late December, 2010. It’s crazy that only 3 years before that I was graduating with my MBA and working for one of the top entertainment companies in the world. Addiction didn’t take me out slowly – it took me quickly and it had its claws in me deep.
The world before addiction seemed infinite and limitless. All things were possible. I was a dreamer and a do-er. I saw the world through a glass that was always half full. But when I started drinking to excess and using prescription pills to get high – I became someone I no longer recognized. Everything was a trigger. Everything made me want to drink and get high.
by Lara Frazier
In my first rehab, and in every rehab after that – I was always required to make a trigger list – a trigger is something that would make me want to use or drink, or check out, or numb, or escape or snort a line of cocaine to completely forget the world. This trigger list was supposed to be part of my relapse prevention work. If I could identify what makes me want to get high than perhaps, I could be prepared for when it occurred. But, what if everything made me want to get high?
Apparently, this was a normal question and the rest of my group all shook their heads in agreement. I drank to success and I drank to misery. I used drugs to party and enjoy life and I used drugs to avoid people and withdraw. As I slowly creeped into recovery, it was easier to identify my triggers. And all the times I relapsed, showed me exactly what triggered me.
Here is a list of 5 of my most common triggers and how I worked through them:
TRIGGER 1: BOREDOM
There is always something underneath boredom that is a trigger. To me, I realized it was my inability to sit with myself. I didn’t want to not be doing or participating or moving, because when I was alone with myself – with nothing to do, the only thought on my mind was using. I was in fear of actually feeling. In recovery, I learned how to identify my feelings and put a name to them. When I understood what type of feeling I was experiencing, I created tools to help deal with them. Meditation, prayer, exercise, therapy, writing, and reading were all tools to help be me able to sit with myself and stay with myself.
TRIGGER 2: MONEY
I couldn’t stand to talk about money. Money talk led me to feelings of shame and guilt and disbelief. Money was something I no longer had and it made me feel inferior. When my parents talked about paying them back, or working more, or taking responsibility for my life – I would cringe. I wanted someone to take care of me. My addiction led me to feelings of entitlement. I was working so hard for my recovery; couldn’t people just help me out? Underneath money talk – was the belief that I would never be as successful as I once was. When I learned to re-define success and take responsibility for my life, money no longer triggered me.
TRIGGER 3: LONELINESS
Loneliness was the worst feeling in the world. I hated to feel lonely. When I was drinking and using, I withdrew from the world, but at least I had my drugs. Now that I was sober, I didn’t have my drugs. I felt like an outcast. I felt like I was unlovable. How could anyone want to be friends with me? I was a terrible person and I did horrible things! Loneliness hurt because I would have to take an honest look at the person I had become. And I didn’t like that person. However, this self-awareness allowed me to change. If I didn’t like who I had become – then I had the power to change my life. Loneliness was the absolute worst misery in the world, but it was also the greatest teacher.
TRIGGER 4: ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
If you have ever been rejected or broken up with by someone you love, then you know it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I didn’t know how to deal with romantic relationships. I couldn’t even take care of myself. When an ex-boyfriend would reappear in my life, I would experience feelings of wanting to use. I didn’t want to deal with these types of feelings. If a new man would reject me, it would feel as if my life had ended. Realizing that romantic relationships were a trigger for me allowed me to stay out of relationships for my first year of recovery. It was one of the best things I could ever do, because it gave me the space and time to know myself again.
TRIGGER 5: RESENTMENT
I came into recovery angry AF. Of course, there was something underneath this anger – and I believe it was feelings of worthlessness and inferiority. Why did I have to become someone who was addicted? Why did it happen to me? I blamed everyone else for my addiction. I didn’t know how to take responsibility for my life. People pissed me off. The smallest things made me angry. I was always on edge and ready to explode. As I learned more about recovery and started taking action to change my life, I started to soften. My walls fell down. I smiled more. I laughed. I appreciated people. When I was angry with someone – I would look at my part in the situation. I learned that resentment was a huge trigger for me and it would take me out quicker than anything else. In order to deal with this trigger, I had to learn the tools to be able to handle resentment. Apologizes, owning my part, forgiving and forgetting.
Lara Frazier is a truth-teller, a sobriety warrior and a writer. She is a FIERCE believer in the power of owning our stories and is a strong advocate for addiction recovery. Lara shares a story of healing: in sobriety, through addiction, in life and love, and in all the other big huge moments of fear and magic that we rarely talk about, but we should. Find more of Lara’s work on her website at www.larafrazier.com or follow her on Instagram @sillylara.