There is so much to go through when you make the choice to get, and stay, sober. The initial effect is a frustrating and confusing jumble of fear, shame, regret and nausea. As the days tick past and you start to recapture your physical and mental strength, you realize that the world you were so accustomed to and had lived in for so long must drastically change. You now can see clearly that what you did before you can no longer do. And part of that means recognizing, avoiding and coping with triggers.

Triggers are a part of recovery. They’re the reminders – the places you went, the people you hung out with, the ease you felt – when you were using. Memory can be selective, seductive. Like thinking of all the good times you had using drugs and alcohol and conveniently dismissing what happened when the good times stopped.

Maintaining your sobriety through the triggers doesn’t have to be scary. By preparing yourself, staying calm and thinking your actions through you can jump those hurdles and stay on the sober path.

So, what are your triggers? Everyone’s sobriety is different so your triggers will be completely your own. Some may be external, like the places you went. Did you use drugs at social events? Drink in bars and restaurants? And the people you used with, it can be tough to resist hanging out with them again. It could also be the people you were required to be around like co-workers or family members. Going to social functions, work outings, family holidays – any one of these events could be the catalyst for your thoughts turning to using just one more time.

And then there’s all those internal feelings that are bubbling up in you, much clearer now in the light of sobriety and probably hitting you a lot harder than they did before. Did you use when you were sad, mad, lonely, frustrated? Or maybe just bored, or nervous about meeting new people. Drink to relax or celebrate? Do drugs just to fit in? All valid feelings, and all seemingly valid excuses to use just one more time.

Let’s take a look at a way to work on quelling those urges.

Recognize – There’s lots of stuff that could send your mind, and you, to get drugs &/or alcohol. Write them down, and be honest. Don’t be alarmed at how long, or maybe short your list is. This will help you to see what it is that could set you off and act as a reminder that these are the things you need to be aware of. When you start to feel that urge, remember your list and say to yourself “Oh, that’s just a trigger”.

Avoid – Back away from your triggers! Oh, sure, easier said than done you may be thinking. You can do it, just take a moment and think it through. Choosing to no longer go into bars where alcohol and drugs are readily available is a good first step. Restaurants a bit more troubling? Choose to dine al fresco, away from the bar area. Does your family spend their holidays in cocktail fueled revelry? Make other plans for this year, and let them know it’s best for you not to participate. It’s OK to make choices based on what will be best for maintaining your sobriety.

And those pesky thoughts? Break them down, take a beat and identify your feelings. Then determine an alternative to that inner urge to use: what else could you do? Are you bored, or just hungry? Having a quick, healthy snack may be just the thing to get you over that hump. Antsy to go out on a Friday night? Check out sober events in your area as a way to meet like minded people.

Cope – Ask for help! A strong support system is key to getting through the trials and tribulations that maintaining sobriety brings. Go to meetings, attend a support group, work with a coach or therapist. It’s important to have help and support at all stages of recovery.

The decision to stop using drugs and alcohol and maintain your recovery is a decision to live a better, more fulfilling life. Developing strategies to recognize, avoid, and cope with triggering thoughts and events is an essential part of maintaining your sobriety.

Think of it this way: you always have a choice. And you’ll be better prepared to make good choices when you take a minute to recognize your triggers, think things through and consider the consequences. You may think “I’ll feel better if I have just one more”. Well, maybe, but when you consider the consequences of using, isn’t reaching out for help instead the better choice?

If this sounds like you, someone you know or someone you work with, The Recovery Coach NY provides individual and family coaching, companions & transport, Intervention and emergency services for you and your loved ones. For more information and additional services, go to our website:


The Recovery Coach NY has years of experience and a vast array of resources that can help those in need find the path to the life they deserve, filled with joy and purpose. We come with an empathetic ear and solution-oriented actions that can begin to bring the relief you and your loved one seek.

You can reach out to Cindy Feinberg, President of The Recovery Coach NY via:

Phone or text: 631-921-4085

Email: [email protected]

Through her website: