Avoiding Summer Triggers


With the Summer time almost upon us it’s important to highlight the challenges that come with it for those who may be battling an addiction. Not only is everyone in good spirits with the finer weather, but events like festivals, BBQ’s and holidays are in full swing, making it particularly difficult for individuals who may be in recovery to resist their triggers.

In such situations, staying committed to sobriety becomes the top priority. In this article, we’ll focus on the various triggers that may arise during the summer months and provide guidance on how to overcome any temptations.

What are triggers?

A trigger is any kind of stimulus that provokes a response . In the context of addiction, a trigger is something that can induce or intensify addictive behaviour. There are various kinds of triggers, however, we will concentrate on the three primary types: external triggers, internal triggers, and synthetic triggers.

External triggers: These are the most understood trigger. They are environmental factors that can prompt a response in an individual . These can include a bottle of alcohol, a stressful situation, or being in the presence of others who are consuming or using drugs. These are all items that can elicit a reaction from an individual.

Behaviour chaining is a technique used to reduce the impact of external triggers by associating them with a different response. This involves altering the initial reaction to the trigger, thereby altering the subsequent trigger, which allows the individual to practice their response and form a new habit.

Internal triggers: These are the individuals’ own thoughts and feelings. Internal triggers can be related to emotions such as recalling a pleasant experience at a favourite bar, feeling insecure, anxious or depressed. Typically, emotional lows are linked to internal triggers, but positive emotions can also drive individuals struggling with addiction to revert to substance abuse.

Similar to external triggers, behaviours can be associated with internal triggers. For instance, the feeling of anxiety may be coupled with consuming alcohol. To avoid internal triggers, behaviour chaining can be implemented. This can involve techniques such as meditation, distraction and reframing the situation to overcome the trigger.

Transforming a negative trigger into a positive opportunity can be achieved by altering one’s perception of the trigger. Although it can be challenging to manage intense emotions, regular practice can help individuals effectively cope with their triggers. According to research done in 2021, it can take an average of 59 to 70 days to form a habit. By consistently employing the behaviour chaining technique and remaining committed, dealing with triggers can become progressively more manageable over time.

Synthetic triggers: These are controlled and designed by an individual or many times, by a marketing team. Advertising campaigns designed to lure the public can be a common trigger that individuals battling addiction may encounter and struggle with. These campaigns add pressure to individuals which are intentionally designed to provoke urges.

How to deal with Summer Triggers

  1. Plan holidays appropriately: When planning your summer holiday, it may be wise to choose a destination that offers a range of activities such as sightseeing, exploring historical sites or engaging in outdoor activities. This way, you can avoid constant exposure to triggers and enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful holiday.
  2. Use alternative rewards: If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you must be around your external triggers, then treat yourself to an alternative indulgent such as a mocktail. Activate your reward centre in different ways, this way, you don’t feel like that you are missing out.
  3. Maintain a good routine: While on summer holidays, it’s important to maintain a good and healthy routine, where sleep and nutrition are prioritised. When factors of a routine like sleep and nutrition are compromised, it can lead to feeling of stress and depression, two internal triggers. Make sure to keep your mind and body healthy while on your holidays by giving yourself enough time to rest and ensuring you are eating enough healthy foods
  4. Have a response plan: Before you go on holiday it is important to map out the trigger process, this can include mapping out your new chain behaviour and your ideal response to experiencing a craving. This could be done by making mental notes, writing down the step by step process or saving the process to your mobile phone. By solidifying and reinforcing this plan you will be prepared with an exact guide on how to cope with temptation.
  5. Cravings are time limited: It is important to remember that if your do experience a craving, do not panic. The feeling will not for your entire holiday and, like everything, it will pass.

With practice, coping with triggers can become easier. Different environments, experiences and emotions can help strengthen your resilience and serve as excellent motivation in your journey towards recovery. So, don’t let the fear of triggers discourage you from taking that holiday. As long as you have effective coping mechanisms in place, you can enjoy your trip without worry.

Tabor Group

Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at info@taborgroup.ie. We can help you.