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Avoiding Drinking Triggers When You're Trying to Stay Sober

Learn how to avoid drinking triggers when you're trying to stay sober in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


A question that I frequently get from people who are working on their alcohol use is around triggers and the avoidance of the triggers. What's important to do first is to identify what does trigger you to want to drink. People are triggered for different reasons. In the 12 step traditions in AA for instance, the AA groups will refer to people, places and things as triggers and you should avoid people, places and things that remind you of drinking and trigger your drinking. So in other words, not to be around those people you used to drink with or to be around people drinking. In other words, if you're trying to avoid drinking, it's not wise to be hanging out at a bar. Often, people need to really stay away from parties or events where there's alcohol served for some time. When we were talking about avoiding places, sometimes people are triggered just by walking by a liquor store and that is sometimes hard to avoid, sometimes you have to walk or drive by a liquor store, you can't control that all the time. But the big thing is things. What are things that trigger you? Again, that's very individual for people so how do you help people avoid those things or deal with them? Again, the easy thing is as best you can is to avoid those triggers. However, as I said before, sometimes that's just not possible. Sometimes you have a work function that you have to be there for, where they may be alcohol so what you need to do is through help, through support is learn different strategies to deal with those triggers because just remember, just because you feel triggered that doesn't mean that you have to drink. So what can you do to avoid those things or to deal with your triggers? There are many ways to do that but again, you have to go and talk to other people, get advice from other people who have been through it, go talk to a professional and figure out different strategies. There's real strategies for it that are behavioral and cognitive that can help you deal with the trigger when you feel it, when you can't just avoid the situation that is going to trigger you.

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