How To Avoid A Relapse: Secret #1 Avoid Triggering Situations
Published On: May 10, 202216.5 min read
Do you know that triggering situations can result in a relapse? Host Tim Westbrook, MS, gives valuable strategies for safeguarding yourself from triggering situations and avoid a relapse. The first thing you need to understand is that addiction is a way to escape the pain. So you need to do your best to cultivate healthy relationships for a happy, serene life. Avoid conflicts as much as possible. The moment you feel any negative emotions creeping up on you, call a friend, therapist, or anyone you trust. Discuss your feelings so you won’t have to end up relapsing. Tune in for more tips!
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How To Avoid A Relapse: Secret #1 Avoid Triggering Situations
This episode is sponsored by Camelback Recovery. Arizona’s preferred sober living option is to help AA newcomers stay sober during their first year in the program. If that’s you or someone, then you are in the right place. My team and I, over the course of many years, have helped thousands of people to stop their suffering and continue on their path to recovery.
Let’s get clear on one thing. We believe that a relapse or slip is not a part of recovery, and that’s exactly why this show is dedicated to you or any loved one you know in their first year of striving to live a clean and sober life. The purpose of this show is to come clean with all of the misinformation that’s out there about recovery, addiction, treatment, mental illness, and the strategies to stay sober in general. If you believe you are in the right place or if you know someone who is struggling with addiction, it’s my privilege to share this show with you.
I have no idea if you and I have ever met but what I do know is that AA saved my life. I also know that to find long-term recovery and live happy, joyous, and free, it is a lot more than stopping your drinking, drugging, gambling, sexual indiscretions or any other addiction you may have struggled with or suffered. At Camelback Recovery, we believe that sobriety can and should be fun.
Any recovery process is not easy. It is challenging. It can sometimes be annoying, and for most of us, it is often difficult to stay on the path. Here’s the good news. The self-awareness you gain from reading this show, especially if you are in your first year of recovery. We will help you make better choices, which will ultimately lead you to live a kick-ass sober life. Visit CamelbackRecovery.com to learn more about our strategies for alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness, and we even offer recovery coaching so that you can enjoy the freedom and the happiness you have always searched for.
Welcome to the 72nd episode. This show is devoted to people in their first year of sobriety. No need to take notes because I have paid a professional note-taker to do that for you. The other episodes are available at ILoveBeingSober.com. Although your first year in sobriety is central to our discussions, you and I will also explore other fascinating and important topics such as health and fitness, self-care, food and nutrition, breathwork, and biohacking, just to name a few. All of these things are your gateway to living a kick-ass sober life, which is our mantra at Camelback Recovery.
In this episode number 72, you will learn the first secret, which I believe is critical to avoiding a relapse. You will discover that avoiding triggering situations is the first secret to avoiding relapse or avoiding a slip, along with why avoiding these triggering situations is imperative if you want to avoid a relapse or a slip. We are going to talk about how you can avoid triggering situations and how it works for you. Read carefully because this episode could have a significant impact on how you can make it to a year and much closer to living a kick-ass sober life. Triggering situations can include the environment you are in, stress, negative emotions, and even celebrations.
Read episode 71 if you want to learn the specifics about those different types of triggering situations I mentioned. The environment you spent your time in prior to getting clean and sober led to your drinking and drug use. There are things you went, things you did, places you went, and drinking and drug use were at least one of the main activities.
[bctt tweet=”Avoiding triggering situations is the first secret to avoiding a relapse. ” via=”no”]
Before I got clean and sober, everything I did, whether it was going out to dinner, going to a concert, going to a football game. I used to have season tickets to the Cardinals, which I’m not even a huge spectator. I love watching football but I’m the guy that watches the playoffs and watches the Super Bowl. I don’t follow sports. I’m an active person. I love to play sports but I’m not a huge spectator but I had the season tickets to the Cardinals.
The reason I had these tickets was that it was a good excuse for me to get crap-faced every Sunday, and I would make a whole day out of it. I would have a few drinks in the morning before I left my house. I would go and tailgate at the game, before the game, and then I would go in and drink my face off at the game, and it was just a drink fest. I didn’t realize this until after I got clean and sober. I can go to football games now, and it’s not triggering for me. I have some time under my belt. I have been sober for several years.
What I realized is that most people don’t get crap-faced the way that I got crap-faced. I used to think that everybody at the football game, at the concert, comedy show or the bar got crap-faced. I thought that everybody drinks the way that I drink, and I didn’t realize it. If you are reading this show, you might have been like me, where you think everybody else drinks the way that you drink, and then you will realize, if you haven’t realized it yet, there are not that many people that get crap-faced the way that we’ve got crap faced. There are maybe 1 or 2 people, and they stand out, and it’s obvious. I look at them and have compassion for them because I know that they are in a dark place. I know that they are not doing well.
I’m so grateful to be on the other side of this thing but it took me some time. We are focused on you and your first year of sobriety, and these are triggering situations, these environments. For me, playing golf was another reason for me to drink my face off. I would show up at the golf course with a 6-pack or a 12-pack of beer. I can remember a time I went to a nice high-end golf course in North Scottsdale, and I showed up with an 18-pack or a 24-pack in my bag, and it’s so ridiculous.
I remember the caddie grabbed my bag, and he was going to put it on the cart and he was like, “What do you have in this bag? It’s so heavy.” I said, “I’ve got a bunch of golf balls.” He thought I was lying, which I was lying. He said, “Do you mind if I check your bag?” I said, “No, go ahead.” He found my beers. He confiscated them. It’s embarrassing but those are the types of things that I did.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got kicked out of venues, concerts, football games or baseball games. I remember one time I went to Candlestick Park in San Francisco. I snuck a bunch of beers in. I put them in my socks, which is ridiculous. I’ve got caught drinking beers, and it was a long time ago. I was in college or post-college. Natural light ice. I’ve got kicked out of the game.
I remember going to a Pennywise Concert in San Francisco at the Fillmore and the same thing. I had so many stories like that. If you’ve got stories like that, then I’m glad you are reading this show. If you are reading this show, everything in your life revolved around drinking, drugging or whatever your main vice was. Until you have some time under your belt, you will want to avoid your old environment as much as you possibly can and whatever it is. It might be Saturday night in Old Town Scottsdale or wherever it is that you live.
Avoid A Relapse: Most people don’t get shit-faced the way that you get shit-faced.
I would say at least bars and restaurants after 10:00 PM, my experience is that the environment escalates the environment changes as it gets later. Around 10:00 is when the environment changes. People start to get a little wasted, drunk, and louder. It used to be triggering when I was first clean and sober, and now it’s annoying. I don’t drink like that. It’s not triggering. It’s not fun for me to be around. Concerts and parties, dating someone that’s in the disease, in alcoholism and drug addiction.
The recommendation is to not get into a new relationship for the first year. For me, I didn’t date my first year. It was the best thing I ever did. I worked on my recovery because if you are focused on dating, then you are not focused on your recovery. I remember I finished the steps, and my sponsor encouraged me to stay away from dating until at least I finished the steps.
I finished the steps. I focused on my recovery. I focused on building relationships with people that were in the program, in recovery, and that was what worked for me, and it was the best thing that I ever did. In my first year, I was broken, and you attract what you are. If I attract what I am and I’m broken, then I’m not attracting high-quality people to date.
It was good for me to not date my first year, and I can talk more about my dating path in a later episode. I have also heard people say, “My picker is broken,” and it’s like, “The reality is that you are broken.” If you are in your first year of recovery, you are broken. Focus on your recovery until you become the person that you want to be in your life.
You are going to come up with a list, maybe with your sponsor, that includes the ideal woman, man or whatever it may be. When you become that person, that’s when you are ready because that’s when you will attract what it is that you want in your life. The focus now is let’s get you to a year. The other thing I tried to avoid during my first year was the drinking holidays. New Year’s Eve, St. Patty’s Day, the Kentucky Derby Party, July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are all drinking holidays.
Maybe I didn’t necessarily avoid them but I for sure stayed with people that were in recovery that were doing the deal. That’s what worked for me because I didn’t want to be triggered. I stayed sober. I never relapsed. I mentioned that because my path worked for me. More than 90% of people relapse in their first year. If you are reading this and you are in your first year, the chances are that you are not going to make it.
If you want to make it, you want to make it for a year. It is the first big milestone. Meaning you have 24 hours, 30, 60 or 90 days, and each of those milestones counts. Let’s get you to a year. There are other situations which you should try to avoid if possible. If you are not able to avoid some of these situations, parties, weddings or birthday parties, some of them you are not going to be able to avoid, you are being aware of them and that they could potentially be triggering.
[bctt tweet=”Whatever your main vice, avoid your old environment as much as you can.” via=”no”]
That’s going to be helpful and could prevent the relapse or slip. Other types of triggering situations include stress, stressful situations at home, work, school or financial stresses. Maybe you are in an abusive relationship or any other type of stress. For me, I do everything I can to remove conflict from my life. I don’t want conflict, drama or anything else that causes friction.
I want to be happy, joyous, and free. I want peace and serenity in my life. When I have stress in any of those areas, it’s not fun. When we are stressed out, it could trigger a relapse or a slip because drinking and using that’s the solution to our pain and discomfort. Keeping this in mind helps me make solid decisions about who I spend my time with, about who it is that I let into my life.
I’m speaking to the responsible versus the victim mindset. I have learned through AA and the 12-Step Program to take responsibility. I’m a responsible person. I don’t want to surround myself with people that have the victim mentality. I would say the victim mentality, that type of a person is focused on self, self-centered, selfish, it’s all about me. I know if I’m in pain, I’m focused on myself. I need to flip it and focus on the other person.
Take responsibility, bring value, and make a contribution to the relationship. I believe I’m responsible for everything in my life and that life happens for me, not to me. I have gone through a lot in my life, and I am the person I am now because of everything I have gone through, and you might be going through a lot as well. For me, my wife left me. I’ve got divorced. I filed for bankruptcy. My real estate license was revoked. I lost my business. Those are some of the things that happened to me while I was in recovery.
Those things were all wreckage as a result of my drinking and drug use. They happened while I was in recovery but I will tell you, I walked through all of those situations and went to lots of meetings. I stayed connected to people in the program. I called my sponsor every single day. I did my step work. I did everything I needed to do to walk through all of those situations.
Now, I’m on the other side of it, and it’s the best feeling in the world. If you are reading this, you may have lost everything as well. You might be able to relate. Trust me. Life is amazing on the other side of this thing but you’ve got to walk through it. I’m sharing it with you, in this episode, all of the situations that you want to be aware of and negative emotions.
Negative emotions can also be triggering. Drugs and alcohol are the solutions. Dr. Gabor Maté says that, “The question is not why the addiction. The question is why the pain.” The reason we drink in use is that we are seeking a solution to the pain. Feeling sad, angry, lonely, ashamed, and guilty are all negative emotions that could potentially lead to a relapse.
Avoid A Relapse: Negative emotions could lead to a relapse.
When you are walking through those feelings, pause, call your sponsor, therapist, recovery coach, or someone else that you trust that you can open up to and that you can talk to you too about your feelings. I’m going to talk about other ways to cope with your negative emotions in the episode on self-care, which is episode 76.
Now you are in the process of changing your life. This means you need new hobbies, interests, friends, eating habits, sleeping habits, and exercise habits. Everything has got to change. These are the new healthy lifestyle habits that are going to lead you to living a kick-ass sober life. All of these activities promote a new, healthy, sober lifestyle. You want to find people that have what you want, and you want to do what they do. You will find the laughter, joy, and fun in living a clean and sober life.
New healthy activities can range from yoga, CrossFit, running, hiking, biking, triathlons, reading, going to movies, bowling, and going to the farmer’s market or dinners. I went to lots of meetings when I first got clean and sober. In my first year, I went to lots of meetings. I went to 1 or 2 meetings a day. I went to the meeting before the meeting. I stayed for the meeting and after the meeting. I participated. I did lots of service work. I got out of myself. Those are the things that I needed to do to stay connected and on the path.
If you find the right meetings and right people to hang out with, that you can relate to, that’s why they say, in my opinion, one of the reasons you go to 90 meetings in 90 days or a lot of meetings is because you want to find the people that you can relate to. Meetings are different. Smart recovery, refuge recovery, whatever type of recovery, whatever type of meetings you go to, wherever it is that you hang out, you’ve got to continue going until you find the people and your tribe. Once you find your tribe, it’s comforting. It’s a lot more fun and laughter.
Here’s a quick review of the insights you and I both rediscovered in this 72nd episode of the show. We talked about triggering situations as the first secret to avoiding relapse, avoiding those triggering situations. Along with why avoiding those situations is imperative if you want to avoid the slip. We talked about how it works for you. Remember, these insights will only work for you if you work them. Please make sure you apply what you have learned in this episode because if you do, you will be on your way to live in a kick-ass sober life, and you will agree that that’s exciting to think about.
Speaking of reviews, before we end this episode, I want you to go to ILoveBeingSober.com and type in your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment you experienced during this episode. You can do this now in the review section, and when you do, iTunes will ask you to rate the episode. I hope I have earned five stars from you.
Go ahead. Declare your one big takeaway in the iTunes review section by visiting ILoveBeingSober.com. It will take three minutes out of your day but what you declare could provide you a lifetime of happiness and freedom. That does it for this episode. I hope that our paths cross again next episode of I Love Being Sober. The show is devoted to people in their first year of sobriety.
Do whatever it takes to join me for episode 73 because we are going to talk about secret number two, getting rid of your toxic friends. I encourage you to invite a friend, a loved one or a sponsee to read our show. I can’t wait to connect with you. It will be an insightful episode. I want you to join us with your loved ones.