The Top Three Tools To Manage Triggers

triggers Jan 26, 2023

It can be difficult to manage triggers, however it is with the appropriate strategies and support that those living with addiction can effectively manage them and maintain recovery.

Clearly outlining what specifically triggers the desire to use or to engage in unhelpful behaviours is one effective strategy to start the management process. You can do this by recording and journal the triggering stimuli that have come up in the past. A triggers list is an open working document which means there is no definitive end, rather a process which requires regular review and additions. By writing down the exact locations, names of people, forms of activities, sensations, specific days and certain times of the day, you can then develop a plan to cope with them in a healthy way. 

Healthy management techniques can include:

  • Engaging in alternative helpful activities instead of using or acting out
  • Seeking support from a trusted friend, family member, partner, or support group
  • Practicing techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness

Let’s look at each of the above management tools in greater detail…

  1. Alternate Activities: It can be helpful to take care of your physical and emotional well-being in order to better manage triggers. This might include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and finding healthy ways to cope with stress through exercise or hobbies. Engaging in these alternate activities and practicing healthy ways of living is essential in the management of triggers. 
  2. Seeking Support: Connecting with strong support networks is fundamental in enhancing encouragement and accountability in managing triggers and maintaining recovery. By participating in support groups, working with a therapist or actively participating in recovery programs, you know that you will be supported and also provided alternate ways to manage your triggers and substance use concerns.  It's critical for friends and family to support you and have a general understanding of your triggers. It can be difficult to manage certain triggers alone, so by communicating often with your team and ensuring that they can provide a  safe and non-judgemental space to communicate will ensure you feel supported.
  3. Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness assists in both the awareness and management of triggers. When you are present, you can accurately identify what it is specifically that triggers your behaviour and therefore assists in the awareness in the moment when a trigger arises. Once you are aware you can appropriately and effectively take the considered proactive steps you need to take to keep yourself safe and well.


Overall, managing triggers for addiction requires a combination of self-awareness, planning, and support. With the right strategies in place, it is possible to effectively manage triggers and maintain recovery.