Identifying action triggers means putting into perspective the negative versus positive people, places and things that lead to impulsive maladaptive behaviors.

A trigger is an object, act, or event that instigates an emotional response, either positive or negative, and is often linked to feelings about something from our past. In the case of substance-dependent individuals, the trigger is typically negative and incites a strong desire to feel better or “normal.” Examples include an environment, such as a party, in which you’d be tempted to try to fit in with the group, or an object or sound that brings up negative memories from your childhood. Veterans of war are often triggered by loud sounds, such as a car backfiring or fireworks, which may provoke flashbacks from their time on the battlefield. When you become aware of the things that trigger emotions such as fear, anger, and/or a desire to escape, you can identify these things before the emotions overwhelm you. If you can identify these emotional triggers before they knock you off your feet, you can take steps to minimize their affect on you and therefore maintain control over your behaviors and independence from negative impulses.

The skill of recognizing your personal triggers is essential to lasting independence because you’re then able to control your breath, heart rate, and thoughts; consider your appropriate responses; maintain physical and mental equilibrium; and dissolve your desire for external substances.