Understanding Emotional Urges and Triggers

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Understanding Emotional Urges and Triggers

Underneath the Addiction

Managing your emotions is key to achieving long-term sobriety. Giving up on the addiction is only the starting point. People use drugs and alcohol to enjoy themselves, feel a sense of relief, or find instant comfort. Drugs and alcohol are frequently misused to deal with painful and negative emotions. Because emotions and thoughts affect what we do, it is necessary to manage our emotions well.

Consider the following cycle that occurs in the urge to use substances or alcohol:

Managing Your Emotions

Strong emotions such as anger, sadness, depression, boredom, shame, stress, and rejection all prompt thoughts and actions, resulting in consequences. There is a tremendous temptation to avoid the painful emotion. The problem, of course, is that escape from the pain does not eliminate the pain. It just kicks the can a little further down the road. In addition to eventually needing to deal with the pain, it is most often only made worse by avoidance and delay.

It is like not paying a bill. Interest and penalties are added to the original amount that you owe and need to pay at some point. Most people start abusing substances to comfort themselves only to make themselves even more uncomfortable, racking up emotional interest and penalties. Face the uncomfortable situations right away. Long-term recovery is only possible as you deal directly with difficult and painful emotions as they arise.

Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!