Once you are in recovery, there are always going to be temptations and triggers that could put you at risk of relapse. You need to be able to recognise these triggers so that you can avoid them. You may find that certain times of the day or certain places will remind you of drinking or taking drugs. For example, while you are at work, you may not think about drinking but once you are close to finishing or have just clocked out, you may start thinking about the fact that you want a drink. This is probably because your old routine involved you stopping off for a drink on the way home or automatically reaching for a bottle of wine once you got in the door.
Familiar places can trigger memories or feelings that can cause cravings for alcohol or drugs. You may experience feelings of anxiety or tension, or you may feel excitement or pleasure. For that reason, it is a good idea to avoid places where you used to drink or take drugs. That obviously means giving pubs, clubs and shops where you bought alcohol a wide berth. However, it may even mean you need to avoid restaurants, concerts or sporting events for a while as well at least until you are strong enough to deal with these cravings.
There are certain situations in the home that may also trigger cravings. For instance, if you used to drink wine every Saturday while watching a movie, go to the cinema instead. Or watch sports in the bedroom instead of the living room where you used to drink beer. You need to break the habit to help stop the association and cravings.
Many other things in life can remind people of drinking or taking drugs. It is difficult to entirely avoid every reminder, so it is important that you learn how to deal with them. Smells, images and even songs you hear can remind you of days when you were drinking or taking drugs, and this can trigger signs of physical craving such as agitation, sweating and rapid heart rate.
You need to learn how to recognise these triggers and walk away from them. Below are a few examples of items that can trigger cravings.
- Advertisements on TV. You may see adverts for beer or wine on TV, and most of these adverts will show people drinking. If you spot these ads, then change the channel straight away or leave the room if you are in someone elses house. If you are at home, try to record the programmes you want to watch so that you can fast forward through the adverts. That way you can avoid them completely.
- Baking products such as flour, baking soda and sugar. All of these items can remind former drug users of substances such as cocaine, especially when spread out on a dish or the worktop, and they can trigger cravings instantly. If you are baking with these products, make sure they are never left sitting around for longer than necessary and are added to the mixture as soon as possible.
- Window cleaning solution. Some say that this smells very similar to cocaine, so it is a good idea to use a different solution to clean your windows or just avoid cleaning them for a while.
- Vinegar. Some people believe that vinegar smells like heroin, so it is a good idea to avoid having it in the home until you are stronger.
- Specific songs. Playing songs that you used to listen to while drunk or high on drugs is a bad move. You could find your cravings are particularly strong when listening to certain songs, so it is a good idea to avoid them, for a while at least.