Are Relapse Triggers Real?
My name is [insert generic name here] and I’m an alcoholic. My name is [insert even more generic, but still kind of hip, name here] and I’m an addict.
Those are words we’ve all said countless times. I know I have. I say them each morning when I wake up (just to remind myself of who and what I am), during the go around at meetings, when I raise my hand to share, and when I’m asked to speak. These words are ingrained in my consciousness.
What do they really mean though? Well, through my understanding of alcoholism and addiction, I believe they mean that I’m someone who suffers from a mental obsession, a physical allergy, and a spiritual malady.
Of course there’s a lot more that goes into being an alcoholic (selfishness, unhealthy relationships, etc.), but those three points are at the center of my alcoholism.
But guess what? Two of the three can be treated. Two of the three can be given a daily reprieve. Two of the three can be made better.
This only happens through doing the work (which isn’t really work at all but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it!). Once I admit defeat, get a sponsor, start doing stepwork, get in contact with a God of my own understanding, and start practicing spiritual principles in all my affairs, I also start getting better.
Once I do these simple things, the mental obsession is removed and the spiritual malady is reversed. Of course, they can always come back, but so long as I’m living right…they don’t. It’s that simple.
So, this has all been a long way of making a simple point – I don’t believe that triggers exist. Maybe they do in early-recovery, before we do the work, but once we get spiritual fit, well, we also say goodbye to relapse triggers.
A Bold Claim
I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a certified addiction councilor. I don’t have any fancy letters next to my name. I’m just a woman in long-term recovery from drugs and booze.
So, my claim might be a little bold. My assertion that drug relapse triggers don’t exist for spiritually fit individuals might be a little much. I stand by it 100% though.
Want to know why? Because I’m living proof of it. Myself, and millions of other men and women, are walking proof that triggers don’t exist.
Since getting sober, I’ve been around people drinking more times than I can count. You know how many times it’s phased me? How many times it’s made me want a drink myself? Not once.
I’ve been around people smoking pot (a position I don’t like to put myself in, but one that has happened) a handful of times. Did I ever want to take a hit of the joint, a puff on the pipe? Nope.
These things don’t trigger me because, and this goes back to what I mentioned above, I no longer have an alcoholic mind. I’ve recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
Two Things to Remember
Now there are two important, strike that two critical, things to consider – we don’t get better overnight and our spiritual condition is subject to change.
First, we don’t get better overnight. For my first six months of sobriety, I stayed away from all alcohol. If my friends were going to a bar to shoot pool, a concert, or anywhere that served alcohol, I wasn’t there.
I knew I still had an alcoholic mind. I knew I wasn’t strong enough in my recovery to be around alcohol. So I didn’t put myself in those situations. Simple as that.
Second, our spiritual condition is in constant flux. One day we may be super connected and another we may not be connected at all. It’s important to be in touch with where we’re at on any given day.
If you’re spiritually connected, triggers don’t exist. If you’re not, well, triggers can be very real. If you’re not spiritually connected, instead of going to the bar to shoot pool, it’s a good to work with another alcoholic instead.
And that isn’t just my bright idea. It says so in the Big Book and that, as they say, is that!