Identifying and Handling Triggers

Addicts and alcoholics have a tendency to not handle things so well. This isn’t stigmatization as much as it is proven fact. For reasons stemming out of childhood, personality or mental disorders, certain input in an addict or alcoholic’s life translates into a volatile output. Due to their inability to process the information of such an event, the addict or alcoholic’s brain will simply attempt to shut down or escape. As soon as drugs and alcohol are brought into the picture, this process changes dramatically.

Addiction and alcoholism work in the brain by creating a hyperstimulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine communicates pleasure and operates the brain’s reward center. Not only will the brain close the borders against unwanted intruders coming in the form of triggers, it will start to instantaneously crave the presence of the drugs and alcohol it now knows can make it feel so much better. Overtime, this creates cognitive dissonance and impairment. Damaging core parts of the brain that control basic cognitive functions like reasoning, logic, and understanding, addiction and alcoholism actually impact the way that the brain thinks. Imagine a situation where an addicted teenager is faced with punitive consequence (real or perceived) and runs away in need of obtaining drugs. “Sure”, the parent may yell, “run to your drugs. Go get high!” Little may the parent realize the reality of that accusation. Cognitively unable to process the overwhelming information, and without any other resources at their disposal, an addict or alcoholic will feel no choice but to return what they know helps.

Recovery helps. Going through the process of detox, treatment, and ongoing recovery changes brain chemistry. Ridding the body of harmful substances is just the beginning in a process of monumental life changes. Learning about their brain, their behaviors and their reaction patterns, a recovering individual will get new information about what sets them off and how to handle them. The healing brain gains its cognitive functioning back, making this information easier and easier to compute. When triggers arise, they are easy to identify and assess. Education gained from treatment and therapeutic sessions provide a wealth of tools to use in order to handle these triggers, without needing to resort to using drugs and alcohol. Some of these tools include meditation, breathing, setting a boundary, removing themselves from the situation, and reaching out to a trusted peer or member of their immediate support group. Continuing to practice these new methods further repairs cognitive damage, building new patterns.

Learning the skills for managing life’s many challenges is just one component of our comprehensive care programs at The Villa Treatment Center. Find more than recovery here. Find a new way of living. Call 1-818-639-7160 for more information on our detox, residential, and extended care services.