Recognizing and Responding to Triggers: Essential Skills for Dealing with Triggers in Recovery

When you are in recovery, there are things that may remind you of certain events, places, or emotions. These are called triggers. It’s important that you learn how to recognize and respond to triggers. Without the right coping skills, triggers can result in:

  • Relationship problems
  • Stress
  • Sleep issues
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Issues at work
  • Relapse 

Identifying Triggers in Recovery

When you participate in addiction treatment programs, you get a chance to work with professional therapists who can help you identify your triggers and develop coping skills.

With inpatient programs, you can practice those coping skills as you encounter triggers during your program, but most of your practice will come when you transition into the next level of care or get back to your daily life.

Not all triggers will be successfully identified while in treatment. There may be unexpected triggers that you face when you are returning to work, back with your family, or out to dinner with friends.

Pay attention to symptoms such as:

  • Emotional changes like sudden and unexplained irritability
  • Physical changes like tension in the shoulders or problems sleeping

Once you recognize these symptoms early on, you can apply coping skills that aid you in dealing with triggers in recovery sooner rather than later. 

How to Deal with Triggers in Recovery

Dealing with triggers in recovery comes in many forms, and it involves a great deal of self-care, self-awareness, and coping skills. 

Move Daily

It’s important that you move every day to increase your energy and decrease your stress. Regular physical activity improves sleep quality, boosts mood, and helps you regulate levels of cortisol in your system.

Set aside time every day for physical activity until it becomes routine. A good place to start is a quick 10-minute walk outside, gentle yoga, or stretching before bed.


Meditation is an essential way to take care of yourself and manage stress and triggers. 

Meditation for beginners doesn’t have to be particularly long. You might start with just a few minutes each day listening to a guided meditation. Gradually increase until you can meditate easily for 15 or 20 minutes at a time.

Do Positive Things Daily

When you are struggling with triggers or symptoms of a mental health disorder like depression, it can be difficult to do important things or even things that you enjoy. As such, one good coping mechanism is to always find time each day for one thing you enjoy doing, no matter how small.

If things are particularly difficult for you, start with something as easy as putting on your favorite pair of socks, having your favorite snack, or listening to one of your favorite songs to boost your mood.

Stay Healthy

Being healthy can help you feel your best and set a strong foundation for dealing with triggers in addiction recovery. It’s important that you build habits like:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Sleeping well
  • Setting boundaries
  • Moving daily

It’s equally important that you reduce caffeine and stay away from other substances that you know might not be good for you, like too much sugar in processed foods.

Use Guided Relaxation

If you are having trouble with stress and triggers, you might try meditation alongside guided relaxation. Guided relaxation helps you remove tension in your muscles, teaching you to recognize when you are holding stress in places like your jaw or your shoulders and how to release it.

Identifying Triggers with Sequoia Recovery Centers

Overall, what works best for you when it comes to dealing with triggers in recovery may shift from time to time, and it may not be the same as someone else in recovery. Practice different coping mechanisms after identifying triggers in recovery and see what combination works best for you. Many people benefit from several coping skills in response to triggers rather than just one.If you are ready for help identifying triggers and recovery, reach out to Sequoia Recovery Centers, a drug and alcohol detox center in Spokane. We offer various levels of care for Washington addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient rehab in Spokane. Contact us to learn how we can help you identify triggers and stay strong on your recovery journey.

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