One of the problems that most people encounter in recovery is something known as ‘triggers’. A trigger is a person, place, event or situation that was frequently involved in your drug use behavior. An alcoholic, for example might have been in the habit of drinking every Friday or Saturday night. A person who abused opiates, on the other hand, may have used them to help deal with stressful situations. The challenge is that these are coping techniques or habits that were very deeply ingrained. The alcoholic who was in the habit of drinking every Friday, for example, might especially be tempted to drink on Fridays. Getting off of work on Friday afternoon, the alcoholic would normally head to a bar. Similarly, the individual who abuse opiates would be triggered by a stressful situation. The point here is that recovering addicts must learn new ways to deal with situations that were formerly occasions when they would use
Something as simple as driving past a bar that used to be a favorite drinking spot could trigger a desire to drink. Seeing and old drinking buddy might have the same effect. A stressful situation might trigger a recovering opiate user to want to use again, since that was the way they formerly dealt with stress.
Some people in recovery find that they must avoid certain people or places where they formerly abused drugs or alcohol in order to avoid being triggered. It is hard enough to remain in recovery without the added challenge of being reminded of their former behavior. People in recovery must know what triggers them and learn different ways they can spend time formerly spent using drugs or different ways to respond to situations that formerly led to drug use.
The same is true of anybody who is struggling to make a change in their life. Recovery is really just a different kind of repentance. Both mean that the person is striving to change part of their life. They could be a habitual liar who wants to be more honest; a short-tempered person who wants to be more patient; a glutton who wants to start eating better or an alcoholic who wants to stop drinking. Bad habits, commonly known as vices, are always difficult to get rid of. However, the same God Who made us His own in baptism will continue to strengthen and support us if we turn to Him when we are struggling.