So What Are Triggers?

stress management triggers Jan 05, 2023

Talking about triggers can be quite challenging and a sensitive subject, especially for people who have experienced addiction. However, it is important to talk about triggers in order for people to effectively manage both them and the unhelpful behaviours that typically occur as a result of them. So what is a trigger? A trigger is a situation or event that might make someone feel stressed, overwhelmed, or even motivated to participate in unhelpful behaviours. Anything can act as a trigger, including a particular odour, sound, or sight, as well as an emotion or memory.  Triggers act as stimuli that can elicit an emotional or physical response in an individual.


Triggers can be particularly challenging for someone living with addiction as quite often it can bring about big emotions and activate their natural threat response. It's critical that people are aware of their triggers and have plans in place to effectively manage them.


Triggers can have a powerful impact on a person's behaviour and can feel arduous to control. For people who work stressful jobs and have family responsibilities, triggers can feel especially difficult. The demands of their work and personal lives can lead to feelings of burnout and exhaustion. These feelings coupled with the initial stressful trigger can lead to engaging in unhelpful behaviours and retreating to previously practiced ways of coping unhealthily. For some people who work in high-pressured positions, they may notice that 6pm on a Friday is significantly triggering as they have practiced acting out, using, or drinking as a way to cope or deal with feelings of exhaustion at that specific time and day.

Having a clear understanding of your triggers for substance use and acting out behaviours means it’s easier for you to navigate your way around them and away from regular outcomes that you no longer want to engage in.

By understanding and addressing your triggers, you can increase your chances of maintaining your success and well-being. It is also important to remember that it is okay to experience triggers and to ask for help when needed. With time and practice, you can learn to manage your triggers and build resilience and capacity to cope with stress and challenges.