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Triggers and Cravings (Part 6): Dealing with Triggers and Cravings

Triggers and Cravings (Part 6): Dealing with Triggers and Cravings


– Hello. You are about to watch a video
produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. Now, we’ll talk about
how to deal with triggers and cravings. These techniques
are some of the very first and most important things
people learn to stop their drug use. People with addiction problems
sometimes think that, when they stop using drugs,
they’ll stop having cravings. Unfortunately,
this isn’t so. Having cravings
during recovery is normal and nothing to feel bad about. Most people who stop using drugs
or alcohol have cravings. This is because the brain and
body have changed physically and are conditioned
to respond as though having
drugs or alcohol is as important
as eating or breathing. Cravings can feel like
being struck by a boulder and are followed by use, but cravings are made up
of several stages that follow one another
very rapidly. A craving consists of
a trigger, a thought, then the craving, followed
by drug or alcohol use. There are techniques
for breaking this cycle at each point, but the earlier
it is interrupted, the easier it is
to stop the process. – Triggers– learning
about triggers has been, and continues, today,
to be, one of the most powerful tools
that I use in just sort of being able
to be okay and figuring out
where I’m at. You know, to understand
that there are things, there are stimuli
that are out there, that are going to cause me to start thinking
in a certain way and to be able to connect
those two, instead of sitting there
and wondering, you know, “Why am I feeling this way?” – If I had free time, especially. Boredom
was a trigger for me. – The triggers for me to use
were varied. I mean, you know, it kind of takes over
almost all of your senses. So, for me, the triggers became
anything that I could sense. You know, things I could see, things I could smell,
things I could taste. Those things all
became triggers for me. In addition to those things,
stress would become a trigger for me,
some type of stress– going through a problem
that I didn’t know the answer to would become
a trigger for using. – The best way to
interrupt the process is not to let it start–
that is, avoid triggers. Each person
has different triggers, some internal
and some external. In early recovery, people learn
to identify personal triggers and make plans to avoid them,
whenever possible. But it is impossible to avoid
all triggers, all the time. When a person
encounters a trigger, it prompts thinking
about using substances. Learning to identify
the using thoughts is critical in stopping
the process. Once people can
identify the thoughts, they can use
a visualization technique called “thought-stopping.” Thought-stopping
can prevent a craving and interrupt the progression
to drug or alcohol use. To use thought-stopping,
first, close your eyes. Now, visualize a switch–
any kind of switch– and turn it off. Next, visualize
a relaxing, safe place and picture yourself
in that place. If you do this visualization
as soon as a thought occurs, you will avoid
having a craving. A craving only lasts 30 to 90
seconds, from start to finish. If you’re having
multiple cravings, you may need to remove yourself
from the triggering situation. – Well, I learned
thought-stopping right away when I got to Matrix, and I found it an enormously
useful device in early recovery. They taught me about,
you know, imagining a big switch and switching it
from “on” to “off”, to stop whatever evil thoughts
you were having, and to replace it with an image
that you had in your mind of something that you could
feel better about. – I do use visualizations. I have several spots that are
the most wonderful in the world, to which I can retreat. One is being very high
in the Rocky Mountains, where you can see forever. I grew up in
Colorado and Montana and had some wonderful
experiences there, so those are important. The other one that I use is
I learned to dive– I learned to swim
after I got into recovery. And, learning to dive,
I can actually see reefs, I can see the colors
and the fish, and I do use those. – Visualization is just
one option to use during thought-stopping. Thought-stopping
can also be helped by snapping a rubber band
lightly around your wrist, relaxation
and deep breathing, praying or meditating,
or calling someone. – The visualization techniques
that I would use would be things like remembering
myself standing in the courtroom with handcuffs on
and looking at the judge and remembering the way I felt,
remembering the way I looked. You know,
at the end of my using, I was a badly broken
human being. I was 132 pounds, you know,
I was very disheveled. I was really
pathetic-looking, and so, trying to visualize
myself that way really brought it more
into reality for me and kind of gave me a little
sick feeling in my stomach and, you know, the thoughts
and cravings would go away. – Especially in early recovery, I would call my sponsor
or someone– a confidant within
my recovery community, someone who knows either
what I’ve gone through, what I’m going through, they’ve already been through it or are going through it. – At least I’m reaching out,
you know? Right before, you know,
I just wouldn’t hesitate to go out and drink,
but now, you know, I know it’s a lifelong
process, addictions and recovery,
you know, it’s not going to happen
overnight and, you know, I try to be aware of
triggers in my life. – We hope you enjoyed watching and we hope that the information
will be helpful. These concepts and tools
have helped many people achieve a satisfying
and substance-free life. We wish that
for you and your family.

Comments (5)

  1. Nice. I'll use this in a group today with incarcerated juveniles.

  2. It just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on

  3. its simple. when u get cravings go outside and run as log as u can, or go hiking in the nature or just simply walk for 1h or more. then it will go away. do this every day, every time it gets hard. also read book if u can, if u cant watch some educational videos about this topic or on (meditation, ego, karma etc) on YT and eat proper food with vitamin supplements, vegetables and fruits….lots of it

  4. this is simplistic & inaccurate in many ways. almost insulting. craving can last for days.

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