Are you Triggered? Craving? Reaching for a Drink? STOP!

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I have come to appreciate, really appreciate, just how strong I can be. I have had easy days….no worries or concerns or dramas. And I’ve had days where, if I let my imagination take over? Tons of worries and concerns and dramas.

I have also come to truly understand the depth & breadth of alcohol’s influence on every level of my functioning. I am healing inside out: psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Most days, I am not tempted or triggered. Other days, I am.

I have learned not to fret about those unforeseen moments in the future when I will be tempted. The truth is, it will happen, sporadically, and for the rest of my life. I no longer fear that or worry about it. I address it when it happens.

It happened this week. When I am triggered, I stop what I am doing and ponder what is happening around and inside of me. When actively drinking, I drank for joy and sorrow, celebration and ordinariness. Alcohol was the number one tool I used to get through any and everything.

So….when I am triggered, I imagine that I am walking through the woods. The well-worn path is the alcohol path. It is entrenched and deep. In my sobriety, I am paving a new path, right next to the old path. Each time I am triggered and I don’t drink, I imagine lifting a shovel full of dirt (clearing the way for my new path) and throwing it into the old trench. The visual reminds me that my brain is recovering, too. The triggers are nothing more than phantom pain (like an amputee who still feels his foot). This imagery helps me move through the experience without caving.

Triggered? Craving? Ruminating?

STOP!

The goal is to stop any automatic reaction and replace it with meaningful action.

S: Literally Stop what you are doing.

T: Take a step back, literally.

O: Observe: internally (thoughts/feelings), externally (environment).

P: Proceed mindfully.

In my experience, triggers and urges do not come out of the blue. When I stop and check in, I can connect the dots. I had 9 months of effective and sustained sobriety when I relapsed. Had I used the STOP method, I think I would have had a different outcome.

Sober & Free


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