Discussion > More on Triggers

As a 20 year sober recovering alcoholic (without AA) let me weigh in on the issues of "triggers". It is a false belief that only negative emotions such as resentment, fear, repressed anger, etc. are what trigger the desire in an addict to use drugs or alcohol. POSITIVE emotions are frequently the triggers. They are for me.

Nothing says "reach for the bottle" like a big happy celebration. A much sought-after and achieved promotion at work caused a devastating (nearly career ending) relapse after more than a decade of uninterrupted sobriety. And even more deadly to sobriety than a celebration is plain old-fashioned boredom. Simple boredom can be an addict's worst enemy.

Addicts will tell you "we use when we are happy and we use when we are sad, we use ALL the time". Dealing with unpleasant feelings is only a tiny part of the problem. How do you deal with the happy feelings? Or too much free time on our hands? Even addicts have to relax sometime, take a breather from our hectic lives. Well, this is a minefield for an addict. Things "normal" people take totally for granted become treacherous for addicts.

Addiction certainly is "powerful, baffling and cunning" as the mantra goes, and "patient" too. Addiction waits quietly, for ANY weak moment, but how do we define "weak"? Happy or sad might be triggers, stress or boredom. Addiction never takes a day off.

November 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlori in ca

You may be interested in a case example I described in my first book, "The Heart of Addiction." It is about a man who, like yourself, relapsed upon hearing good news. You can find it in the chapter "Puzzling Cases".

Lance Dodes, M.D.

January 13, 2015 | Registered CommenterLance Dodes, M.D.