I have posted about relapse, slips and other such things regarding recovery. Today i want to talk about triggers.

Most of us are aware of what they are and some of us even know most of our own. If you are new to recovery though there are some great articles online. It’s super important to be aware and continue to become aware of your triggers. That was something i didn’t know about when i first started getting sober in 2018.

One of my triggers was playing music and painting.I used to spend every Thursday night( my night off) drinking and painting. I looked forward to it, playing whatever music caught my fancy , as loud as i could for hours. Eventually, i would usually mess up said painting in my drunkenness and be upset about it the the next day. Over time, i just stopped caring and figured i was destined to waste a canvass or two every week. I planned it into my budget – another expense related to being an alcoholic.i had to stop painting for awhile until i got a handle on things. and when i did it wasn’t pretty. That blank canvass just stares at you.

Another trigger for me was being around others who were drinking. I realized i had to basically stop going anywhere socially for a long period of time. It was especially tough for me to isolate from former drinking buddies. Indeed, one i had distanced from died during my own recovery and i still grieve for the loss of time i could have had with her. But at the time , i knew in order to save myself i could not be around it.I had hoped the same for her.

I do remember the first time i went to an art event without my “buddy” alcohol. It was extremely hard. They had no coffee- just wine and water. I was SO sick of water by that point, even though previously i loved water ( and still do). I am not a fan of much else other than coffee. Anyway, i made it through an hour and came home. After that it wasn’t as hard but i was still careful not to go out too often. About 7 or 8 months in i decided to join a weekly figure drawing session. Baby steps. Mostly people didn’t drink, but there was always wine in the fridge for people and too, they often got together before or after for drinks. I did not participate and sometimes felt like the oddball. I continued going though, as i enjoyed the company of other artists in a small setting and was passionate about improving my skills.

So , a little research online states that the most common triggers are as follows:

  1. withdrawal symptoms
  2. emotional distress
  3. peer pressure
  4. increase monetary resources
  5. testing boundaries

I would have to say emotional distress ( depression/anxiety for me) and social situations ( peer pressure) would be my worst ones. I have to fight very very hard during these times, and haven’t always succeeded.

That being said, i am AF 116 days out of the last 120. And thats still something.

I am learning more and more about my triggers as i go and do my best to avoid them. It’s a tad rough to avoid depression though and i have found that when it hits me hard i really struggle. But in the end i usually make it through with exercise, fresh air, meditating and – i hate to say it- smoking. I still have not conquered that one.

I hope everyone is doing well. What are your triggers and how do you deal with them?



nurse, mother, artist, and chameleon ...

15 thoughts on “Triggers

  1. Wow, great post! A little too relatable for my frame of mind today. You got me with the description of a great time being music, a drink and a painting sesh. I have to look at my life rhythms with new eyes now. Fortunately I don’t drink when I’m “working” so I don’t have that pattern when I’ve got a deadline to meet. And I can go to an opening and not drink, so I’m lucky that way too. But I do get bored and can only take about an hour of those things unless there’s someone really interesting to talk to. I think that would be my trigger: a social occasion with only boring or bs conversations. I need to drink to stop me from saying what I really think ha ha!


    1. yeah..the boredom used to be a big thing with me..but with the pandemic i am more used to it now. I think though now its more about anxiety and feeling like alcohol will help…even though in reality it makes things worse

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I guess the past few days I’ve not been taking that step to pause and try to figure out what I’m really feeling and what will really help. Or, as you’ve written, what the actual trigger is that I’m not noticing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Triggers matter, that’s for sure.
    It’s interesting about painting, however. For me personally painting is that consumes me 100% and I frequently forget even to eat, although, I have to at certain times as type I diabetic or I am in a big trouble.
    I think you started out painting with a drink and that’s why it is so hard to change that. Lots of artists say they drink while painting, but I personally always loved to be in control and have a very clear head, so that was a total no to anything that affects the brain.
    It is best for most people who want to give up some substance, alcohol included, not to attend or be around places where others are using it. Too many events involve alcohol, and even when you go somewhere, there’s no good choice of alternatives, just like you’re saying plain water. I don’t like any alcohol for a few decades now, but most places should learn and offer something other to people who do not drink. It’s usually mocktails now, but they contain lots of sugar and that I cannot have.
    So, there are limitations for everybody, the thing is learning how to live with them and still feel fine and not imagine that you are the poor guy who is not allowed to do one thing or another. I’d say you need to find more pleasure in what you really can do. It is difficult, but possible. Have a good week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ty so much…it’s good to know other artists can struggle with these things. Yes i started out painting a decade ago with a bottle of wine and it spiraled out of control. i know quite a few artists who deal with the same. Even AA meetings have coffee so i just wish events would start doing that( i can only do decaf now , but its something) thanks for the respeonse!


  3. 116 out of 129 days is awesome! Right now my triggers are changing as the weather is changing. Now it’s grilling, bonfires, relaxing in the sunshine….so far so good with it though but I have to have something else that’s non alcoholic. I seem to still have to do that action of drinking. Usually it’s flavored sparkling water. I even sometimes put some cherries in it and a straw. I am curious as to now that things are opening up and I likely will be doing more if that will trigger me. I feel quite strong overall now so I’m hoping that carries on! Another though is I host many family get togethers. Prepping for them always was with a drink! Haven’t had get togethers since COVID so that will be a new scenario. Again I’ll likely have to have a non alcoholic drink by me though so I’m still doing the action of drinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thats interesting. I read about others having drinks at family events and feel grateful thats never been the case with my family. There are/were always kids and such so no one really allows it. That would be another trigger for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been 19 years of mostly sobriety, it’s not hard for me anymore and it hasn’t been for some time, but it was hard much longer than I expected it would be, something I never thought about was my triggers, but thinking about them they haven’t changed. One trigger would be evening, I would be an evening drinker, another is gatherings with people having fun and laughing, another would be parties, another would be smoking, another would be travel to a new area, I did like drinking at lunch if I was with new people so that perhaps it took the edge off boring conversations, another would be Asian people because we have a certain drinking game movie night custom, another would be parking lots which shows how cheap I am… bars is actually a non-trigger because I don’t like to pay full price, holidays are a trigger, fancy bottles like skull shaped ones are a trigger, rum is a trigger, vodka is a trigger, mixed drinks are a non-trigger, blue cups are a trigger for whatever reason. What I found interesting was that none of the triggers have changed, I also grew to avoid or hate all my triggers except blue cups. Which when it comes to social gatherings is sad, but perhaps it is just a coincidence that my extroversion turned to introversion over time. I didn’t think about eliminating my triggers at all, but I really dialed them down, at one point I may have had rum and vodka with other bottles as a bartender I kept a small bar at home for friends, but in my mind, they were designated as set of base drinks and as for guests… that never became a problem with me, not once, but it was about 10 years after my own recovery, not right away. The first 2 years were the hard ones when my identity was still of someone who drinks and I linked that to fun and a wild spirit and freedom, it was still hard for me after that, but somewhere between 2 and 10 it got much easier and I don’t remember when. For me the triggers never changed, but I got a safety for the trigger over time which I think is basically being able to really feel the sick after feeling before drinking and knowing it’s real, somehow switching the “I’m going to feel half-dead and nauseated feeling” for “it’s going to be so fun feeling” made it really easy most days, but if I was already depressed, there was a chance I would try to pretend I didn’t care about feeling sick later, to kind of let me pass into a stupor without further mental pain that day. Behind very few days of fun drinking was more attractive to me as a mental painkiller, I was looking for emotional and actual blackout and I most often drank to blackout, which is difficult, it’s difficult to pay for, it’s difficult to justify, it’s difficult to recover so fast as to be functional, it’s a bit rewarding in a perverse way, but it does become difficult. 🔫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. relatable. I assumed writing this that people would have all kinds of triggers like that, some i hadn’t considered. But what o relate with the most hear is “being able to feel the sick before” as well as “try to pretend i didnt care about feeling sick later”. I still experience both and the results of the latter were/are always the same- regret, guilt, wasting the day in bed, etc. I keep trying and mostly succeed .It’s always the two triggers for me that i wrote about that are the hardest to fight for me.


  5. Emotional distress was also one of my biggest triggers and of course I didn’t even realize it till the fog was lifted. My ego would toss me around talking shit about me all day long. It was so ingrained into my lifestyle it just was “normal” to swill 6 plus beers a few times a week. Now that I’m sober I can mostly catch the depression/anxiety haze slowly sneak in and I have many tools to deal with it such as getting outdoors, writing out here about it, and even just calling it what it truly is a mental day…where I escape to my room where I read positive and spiritual books and just rest and reconnect. I’ve allowed myself to be human😊. I would have to say one of the best ways to deal with triggers is to stop, get still, and choose an action that will kind to yourself. We are so worthy of love and must start by loving ourselves ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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