How Do Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers Prepare You to Deal with Outside Triggers?

A chief concern shared by those who have completed rehab for an alcohol use disorder is how to go about avoiding triggers that can lead to relapse. If you share this concern, this article may be of some interest to you. For those who are not familiar with triggers in the context of addiction recovery, it is a term used to describe the people, scents, places, and other things that remind individuals of what led them to start abusing drugs or alcohol. More than that, triggers can also give way to feelings of anger, sadness, resentment, and other deep-seated emotions that can further motivate individuals to start using again. Even if triggers do not lead to relapse, they can still be a catalyst for bad behavior, such as lashing out at others and making other regrettable decisions.


Now that we have a better understanding of triggers and how they can affect behavior and, more importantly, influence an individual’s decision to abuse drugs or alcohol, let’s take a closer look at the three different types of triggers, internal, external, and sensory.

Internal triggers – These particular triggers are self-manifested, meaning individuals will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to quell fears associated with engaging in certain activities. For example, someone who is nervous about getting a tattoo may decide to consume a few drinks or smoke marijuana before visiting a tattoo artist to help calm their nerves.

External triggers – These triggers refer to the people, scents, places, and other things that may have initially enticed individuals to start abusing drugs or alcohol in the first place. They can also cause individuals, even if those who have been clean for years, to start using again.

Sensory triggers – The sights, sounds, tastes, and other senses that were present when an individual originally started using can lead to a relapse if they experience the same stimuli at a later date. In some cases, exposure to the same sensory triggers can lead to relapse months or even years after an individual has completed rehab.


Internal, external, and sensory triggers can all inform an individual’s decision to start drinking again after successfully going through rehab; however, it is the external variety that is often the most influential. That said, let’s take a look at how rehab facilities can help those who are alcohol-dependent cope with these specific triggers:

Prescription-based medication – Even those who are otherwise strong-willed will find it difficult to not give in to cravings that can send them spiraling toward relapse. For this reason, many rehab facilities will provide individuals with prescription-based medication, such as naltrexone and disulfiram, to help ease severe cravings.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy – Arguably the best form of psychotherapy an individual can receive following detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as CBT, is used to help individuals understand the underlying cause of their alcohol addiction. This form of psychotherapy is also used to help individuals develop coping strategies that they can implement to deal with negative thoughts, triggers, or cravings that would otherwise lead to them drinking again.

Peer support – Although detox and substance abuse counseling can go a long way toward helping those who are ready to quit drinking, they may not always be enough when it comes to long-term sobriety. Therefore, many rehab facilities will encourage individuals to join 12-step programs or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) as they will enable them to connect with like-minded people who have also decided to put alcohol abuse behind them for good.

Online support – Considering that we live in a technological age, it is not too surprising to find that more rehab facilities are making use of apps and other digital means to provide recovery support online. In short, this means that those who are alcohol-dependent can use their phones or laptops to access online support groups when they feel compelled to start drinking again. However, for those who prefer the old-fashioned approach, many facilities will provide individuals with a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)-approved list of recovery support groups in their area as well.

In summation, overcoming an addiction to alcohol, like any other drug, can be difficult. And the ever-looming threat of relapse certainly does not help matters. That being said, if you’re interested in learning more about coping with cravings, triggers, negative emotions, or other factors that can stand in the way of sobriety, you’re encouraged to speak with one of our friendly addiction specialists today at 833-762-3739.