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Coping with Triggers: Fighting Alcohol Temptations

Clinically Reviewed By Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
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Stop Drinking ImageAs your drinking habits change and you realize that avoiding alcohol would be in your best interest, it is safe to assume that you will be faced with temptation from time to time. Even though you may begin to crave alcohol at some point, there are steps you can take to ensure that you stay on the right track to a full recovery.

Did you know that urges to drink alcohol are short lived? In other words, this is not a feeling you will have for an extended period of time. Once you know how to overcome your cravings, it becomes much easier to deal with anything that comes your way.

Two Types of Triggers

The urge to drink alcohol can be set off by internal and external triggers. Here is some more information on both types:

  • Internal triggers. This can be a challenge to deal with, as these urges appear to come out of nowhere. However, if you take the time to think about when and why this thought comes to mind, you may find that a certain factor, such as a negative emotion, has set it off. Subsequently, you will know how to better deal with the craving.
  • External triggers. This includes people, things, places, or time of the day that put you in position to drink alcohol or remind you of your former habit. These are known as high risk situations, and should be avoided at all costs.

How to Cope with Triggers

Let’s face it: there are triggers you will not be able to avoid, no matter how hard you try. For this reason, you need a strategy you can rely on when this happens. Here are five tips:

  • Remind yourself why you are kicking alcohol out of your life, and that you are better off for it in the long run.
  • Talk to somebody you trust. When you know there is somebody who can talk you through this challenge, you will have a much easier time avoiding a relapse.
  • Distract yourself with another activity. If you think drinking alcohol is the only activity at your disposal, you are wrong. Regardless of the situation, you can remove yourself by exercising, calling a friend, or spending time on a hobby among other activities.
  • Don’t give in, knowing that the urge will go away soon enough. As noted above, alcohol urges do not last long. Soon enough, this will pass and you will feel much better about yourself.
  • Don’t put yourself in high risk situations. If you avoid situations in which alcohol will be present, you cannot be tempted to drink.

Even with your days of drinking alcohol in the past, it is important to realize that you will be faced with temptation and urges from time to time. Knowing how to control these situations can be the difference between success and failure.


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