Addiction Triggers And Eating Disorders | Sovereign Health - Sovereign Health Group
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According to some, there are 178 things a person can do instead of giving in to their triggers.  Triggers in addiction treatment are people, places and things that ‘trigger’ an addict, alcoholic or person with an eating disorder to engage in their addiction. In drug rehab, one of the key focuses is on triggers.  What are some common triggers?  Here is a list of some of the more common drug addiction triggers:  smell of money, ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, pornography, entire cities, certain types of music, images, movies, parents, etc.

A trigger can be anything that reminds the addict, or person with an eating disorder, of engaging in their addiction.  Recently on the new E! reality show, called ‘What’s Eating You?’  one of the dietitians confronted her male eating disorder client with a bag full of his triggers.  Presenting the addict, alcoholic or person with an eating disorder with their triggers is not uncommon in treatment, although it may seem to the outsider that the clinician is playing with fire.  The question many outsiders often ask is why would you intentionally trigger someone with an addiction?  The answer is desensitization.  In the ‘What’s Eating You?’ episode, when the dietitian confronted the male eating disorder patient with his food triggers, the audience could visibly see his discomfort level increase.  Acording to research, triggers will often result in physical symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and an increase in dopamine.

A good clinician will work on an addict’s triggers whilst they are in treatment.  At one facility I worked at, processing triggers was a daily group.  Patients would process the triggers they faced every day, in a group format, using a Trigger Chart Worksheet.  The point of the group was to help the client/patient, in the safety of a drug rehab, process their emotional, physical and relational triggers.  The point of using desensitization techniques to reduce the impact of a particular trigger ? in the same way that someone afraid of flying has to confront actually getting on a plane and flying ? is to reduce the physical and psychological response to a trigger.  Drug rehabs learned a long time ago that shielding an addict or alcoholic from their triggers whilst in treatment produced relapse, because simply keeping a person away from their triggers does not work in the long run.  There is something to be said for keeping an addict away from triggers at the beginning of their treatment but, eventually, inevitably, any quality drug rehab will help the client face their triggers.

Here is a list of things people can do instead of using when faced with their triggers:

  • Go to a meeting
  • Call a sponsor
  • Take a shower
  • Journal
  • Clean the house
  • Play with your kids
  • Walk your dog*
  • Get a massage
  • Work out at the gym
  • Go to the pet store*
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Take a nap

There have been studies that have shown the healing aspect of pets in treatment.  *Many drug rehabs allow people to bring their dogs or pets, whilst others have a ‘therapy dog’ on site.

Blog Author: Brendan Bickley

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