Self-Awareness Skills Help You Handle Triggers in Recovery

August 9, 2018 Jami DeLoe

Self-awareness skills help you become aware of your triggers in addiction recovery so you can avoid relapse. Learn some self-awareness skills at HealthyPlace.

You can learn self-awareness skills to help you recover from addiction. Being aware of your own triggers is an important part of successful addiction recovery. In fact, self-awareness overall is essential for recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. You may be wondering what does it actually mean to be self-aware? What are self-awareness skills? Generally speaking, those who have a good grasp on self-awareness have a realistic perception of who they really are, including aspects like their personal habits and behaviors, strengths and weaknesses, and their mental and emotional tendencies. This awareness will help you deal with the triggers to use, drink, or return to old behaviors that will likely lead you there. Self-awareness skills can be learned, and you'll find some of them in this post.

Self-Awareness Skills and Addiction Recovery

Many addicts have few if any self-awareness skills. The very nature of addiction, a desire to numb or escape emotions and situations, makes it impossible to be self-aware. As addiction progresses, it muddies your ability to evaluate and control your own behavior and the motivation behind it.

When you begin your recovery, you begin to become more self-aware. This is important because you have to have a realistic sense of self-awareness in order to confront those things that caused the addiction in the first place. Self-awareness skills will not only help you identify those issues, but it also helps you understand your behaviors and make better choices for your future. Most importantly, self-awareness will help you identify and deal with the triggers that make you want to use again – helping you avoid relapse.

Self-Awareness Skills to Help You Become Aware of Your Triggers

Becoming self-aware can be a challenging process. To do it, you have to have a willingness and receptiveness to change. The best way to get started is to begin improving your awareness of your triggers to use. Identifying and preventing relapse triggers may involve these self-awareness skills:

  1. Spend time in self-reflection. While this may be the last thing you want to do, it is very important that you spend time asking introspective questions and noticing your patterns of behavior. Understanding your behavior will help you identify triggers and realize that there are some people, places, and things that it’s best to avoid.
  2. Be aware of your physical reactions and responses. When you’re triggered, your body may have physical reactions like increased heart rate, stomachache, muscle tension, or a headache that indicate that you are having an emotional reaction to a situation. Use the physical symptoms that you identify as a warning system to prevent relapse.
  3. Understand your emotions. This is a crucial step in preventing relapse. Identifying how you are feeling is the key to learning not to run from emotions, as you did when you were using. Understand that your emotions are temporary and that they aren’t always accurate. For example, you may exhibit signs of anger or frustration when what you are really feeling is sadness. Know that negative emotions will pass and that whatever you are feeling has a source. The key is determining what that source is and dealing with it in a healthy way.
  4. Pay attention to your thoughts. Generally speaking, thoughts precede actions. When you pay attention to what you are thinking, you’ll be able to recognize thought patterns. What are the thoughts that you have about yourself? Do you tell yourself that you are not good enough? Or that you can’t make it in recovery? This type of negative thought pattern can be detrimental to recovery. But, when you recognize patterns and detach from them, you can prevent them from leading to negative actions.
  5. Gather feedback. Sometimes, it’s easier for others who are close to you to recognize when your thoughts or emotions are getting the better of you. Ask supportive friends and family for feedback. Many times, this feedback can help you gain perspective that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

The above self-awareness skills are important to developing the self-awareness that is necessary to help you identify and shut down triggers to use. Additionally, there are some activities that can help cultivate self-awareness. Consider using some of the following:

  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Individual therapy
  • Family or group therapy
  • Art or music therapy

Final Thoughts About Awareness of Triggers in Recovery

Self-awareness will provide you with the empowerment to recognize and avoid your triggers to use. But you have to have the willingness to learn about yourself – flaws and strengths – and make the effort to change and learn self-awareness skills.

APA Reference
DeLoe, J. (2018, August 9). Self-Awareness Skills Help You Handle Triggers in Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Jami DeLoe

Jami DeLoe is a freelance writer and addiction blogger. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and addiction recovery and is a recovering alcoholic herself. Find Jami DeLoe on her blog, Sober GraceTwitter, and Facebook.

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