Understanding Triggers

As defined by Fay Dennis in her research, triggers are defined as anything that contributes to the onset of cravings for a substance. These can be anything from places, memories, people, situations, spaces, or physical objects. Triggers have been cited as the most pervasive facet of substance use disorders (SUDs). Research has found triggers to be the focal point in both neurological and psychological understandings of addiction, as outlined in Dennis’ work. Interestingly, she notes that the concept of triggers can be credited to the work of Ivan Pavlov and his famous experiment Pavlov’s Dogs, within the concept of classical conditioning. In this case, there is a connection that is learned over time, meaning that when a trigger is experienced, a physical need for a substance is manifested. Being able to understand what triggers are and how to deal with them is pertinent to being able to overcome substance use issues. Learning to recognize triggers and how to handle them can lead to the ability to re-train the brain to reform connections between triggers and physiological and psychological need for substances, which is the ultimate goal, changing your daily life and outlook in order to better handle life and life’s situations.

How to Recognize Coming into Contact with a Trigger

If you are asked what your triggers are, more than likely they were brought about through difficulties or traumas during childhood development. Margaret Paul, PhD., noted that from her work, she found that many issues occur during childhood that were not able to be dealt with at that point, meaning that they are left unresolved and more likely to manifest themselves in adulthood. Triggers can often be brought to life out of feelings such as shame, anxiety, guilt, and depression. The reason that these feelings are prevalent is that they were experienced within childhood and adolescence, however, they were not effectively managed, so they remain strong but hidden within the subconscious until they are brought to life by a trigger. While there may be many triggers such a place where something bad happened, a color of an outfit, something not working right, or an experience such as riding in the car; you name it, everyone’s triggers look different, but some of them are the same. The triggers that tend to be the most prevalent are found in the form of other people.

Dr. Paul outlined these most common triggers that tend to have a negative impact on any given individual:

Someone either inadvertently or blatantly ignores you.

Having someone either threaten to leave you or leave you (most common in relationships).
Getting a look from someone that comes off as rude or judgmental.

Being around someone who comes off as either controlling or too needy (whether emotionally or sexually).
Not feeling as though someone is happy to see you or feeling as though someone doesn’t have enough time or makes enough time for you.

Someone placing blame on you for something happening or going wrong, whether it is with them personally or within a situation.

Having feelings of being helpless in certain situations.

When you sit down and really soul-search and figure out what it is that bothers you on a deep level, you may find that your triggers fit well within this list. If your trigger is not other people, then it may be helpful to have someone to help you work through things, such as a therapist, who can help you to explore and open up your mind to further find possibilities as to what is troublesome for you.

How to Avoid or Handle Triggers

Once you’ve been able to identify your triggers, no matter what they are or how many of them you may have, the next important step is to find ways to either avoid them altogether or find coping mechanisms to help you handle them when they arise. Working with other people who have gone through similar experiences may be helpful to find ways of handling triggers that you may not have previously thought of. Using support groups, sponsors, or therapists to talk to when you feel as though you’ve experienced a trigger can be a great tool as well. If there are certain people in your past that have been a trigger for quite some time, having a conversation with them and working towards forgiveness can release the hold that they seem to have over you and how you feel. If you want to take this step with a trusted friend by your side, having someone physically present with you may make these interactions easier. Additionally, if you find that there is no positive resolution that is possible between you and the person, then you may consider cutting ties with that person and filling your circle with those people who are positive influences. If your triggers are not other people, then you can utilize these methods as well, just apply them to objects or places. Sometimes, it may be necessary to completely change your environment in order to grow, but that is a decision that is completely up to you and what will help you to be the most successful.

Experiencing substance use issues can be harder to overcome when you’re unaware of your triggers and how to handle them. When the time comes that you decide that you are ready to leave substance use behind and move on to better things is the perfect time to do so. You are probably aware that your whole life will change, but in many cases, change is for the better. Despite having reservations and fears about what the future will look like for yourself, know that it can only get better from here. For more information, call us at (805)719-7954.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Everyone always says that it takes a village to raise a child, but in reality, it takes a village just to make it through life, no matter how old you are. There are so many instances where no one could make it through their life without the support of family, friends, significant others, neighbors, co-workers, you name it. Everyone needs someone, whether you believe that to be true or not, life is much better knowing that you have at least one person by your side to help tackle life’s difficulties with, or someone who is just there for you. The same holds true when it comes to recognizing that you have an addiction that you want to overcome. The step that involves recognizing that there is an issue is all up to you, but beyond that, once you decide to make a change and to get help and get better, you will never, ever be alone. The community of people that you will have on your team is so strong, and it is one that can remain a part of your life for years to come, if not forever. Everyone wants to see you do well for yourself so that in turn, you can help others do well, the same way people will do for you. It’s a cycle of love, healing, and progress, and the right people will want you to be a part of it.
Care Centers

Care centers, namely inpatient treatment centers can be a great way to utilize a team to help overcome substance use issues. At these centers, those who choose to stay and participate in programs of varying lengths are given a comfortable place to stay away from everyone and external situations that could be triggers for substance use. They also do a great job of helping to recognize internal triggers that could be the culprit as well. When at these facilities, you have an entire team of people who are more than willing to help you to be healthy and to get back to being yourself. Therapists can help you to learn how to understand your thoughts and feelings and can work with you on finding and implementing positive coping mechanisms. Group therapy will also be available to participate in, which can aid in healing and progress, because everyone is helping one another. Whether you have needs that are physiological or psychological, there will always be someone to help meet your needs and help you through the transition from who you’ve been to the person you could be. What’s important to remember is that you will never be alone, some demons can be quite scary to face, especially on your own, but that doesn’t have to be the way that you handle the situation. You can allow people to help you and get you through this tough time.
Outpatient Programs

Programs such as the most common, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.), among others, are conducted in group settings. The reason for this is because of the fact that recovery is a group effort. Gathering with other people who can relate to you and who have been there, is really comforting and reassuring. Being in the company of people who can relate, especially those who have been successful in overcoming their substance use issues is inspiring for those who are still working towards recovery of their own. Having a group that you can meet with, whether the frequency is on a daily or weekly basis, you know that there is a place that you can go to where you can have people to talk to and a group that you are welcomed into with open arms. Not to mention, you will have a sponsor who will be available to you when you need them the most. Eventually, you can even be that person for someone else. It’s all about using past experiences to shape better futures, and that is something that is better done together than alone.

Experiencing substance use issues can be quite taxing on anyone both physically and emotionally. When the time comes that you decide that you are ready to leave substance use behind and move on to better things is the perfect time to do so. You are probably aware that your whole life will change, but in many cases, change is for the better. Despite having reservations and fears about what the future will look like for yourself, know that it can only get better from here. To find out how having a team and community of support to help get you through, call us at (805)719-7954.

How Does Faith Play a Role in Recovery?

If you are someone who struggles with a substance abuse disorder (SUD), you might find yourself asking a lot of questions. How did I end up here? When did things go wrong? What happened to me? How do I stop this or What is my way out? There may be aspects of your situation that you’re fully aware of or maybe things have been out of the norm for so long that you forgot how you even got where you are. What’s important to remember is that you don’t have to stay in the place that you’re in, you have the opportunity to change your life for the better and to find yourself again. You are at a point where you can rekindle the things you used to love about yourself and work on the things that maybe needed improvement. Even more important is that you are not alone. There may be people who don’t feel as though faith in a higher power may do much for them, but for others, welcoming some divine intervention was the best thing that they ever did for themselves. At this point, you don’t have anything to lose from choosing to have faith and using it as a guiding force in order to start and maintain recovery.

In fact, coming from Baylor University, Dr. Brian Grim, a sociologist, who was published in the Journal of Religion and Health, studied the relationship between faith and recovery from addiction. Programs that incorporate faith into their treatment plans are said to be widely successful in the aiding of long-term recovery for reformed addicts. This is something that should certainly be paid attention to seeing as how in the United States alone there are roughly 20 million people who are suffering from SUD. Dr. Grim also noted that despite less than half of the U.S. population feeling as though faith has a solution for the problems that currently exist in today’s society, over 70% of treatment programs, for example 12-step programs, implement faith or spirituality into their recovery plans. In the same way that various programs and treatment centers utilize group therapy models and seek to have those in recovery be a part of a strong, growing community, having some form of faith enables people to further be a part of a group that can have a strong influence in a positive way other their life. There may not be an understandable reason as to why things are the way they are, but with faith, there is the promise of a way out and for better things to come to you.

Developing a Personal Relationship with God

One important aspect of faith in recovery to note is that people are not required to subscribe to some sect of religion. While choosing a church and attending services may help for community inclusion and offer a chance for structure, that is not all that faith is about. Many people in present times denounce religion for many reasons. Some people do not like the rules and others simply don’t agree with all the practices that take place. The most important facet of faith and spirituality is that you develop a personal relationship with God or whichever higher power you choose to place your faith in. Prayers can be said anywhere, and they are always heard and answered, even if the answers come in unexpected ways. You can talk to God without the formality of a scripted prayer, just through using regular conversation, and He will hear you. Doing your part to show respect and reverence on your own is far more valuable that sitting in a church getting nothing out of the message. Within treatment programs, there are often prayers that are said regularly and that is because they work, especially when you believe in them. You, yourself, may have felt powerless over many situations and experiences that you have come across, and perhaps you really were. However, it doesn’t have to stay that way, you have the power to take back control and reclaim your life, your identity, all of it. Life may not be perfect, but it does get better, and knowing that you have someone who is capable of miracles on your side is one of the best tools that you can have to overcome any obstacle that you may face.
Call to Action

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you may feel as though you have lost your way. You may not understand why you are where you are or how to find a way out. We want to help you get back on track. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today. Having a team and really community of support to help get you through can offer piece of mind and a sense of security. At Enlight Treatment Center, we emphasize care and comfort and we want to be that team for you to help you overcome issues and get back to your best self. Whether you have questions or want to visit our facility and talk with us in person, we are always here for you. You can call us at (805)719-7954 or schedule a tour of our facility at 11811 Darlene Lane, Moorpark, CA 93021.

Why Is Sharing Our Story Important?

Something that can be very difficult for people entering treatment for addiction is sharing our stories. In front of other people. Out loud. It is easy to see why it would be hard for us. We have just made the most difficult decision in our lives after what feels like a lifetime of self-combat, and now they want us to tell a random group of strangers our most painful experiences and thoughts? No thanks.

Think again, though. Why are we being asked to do this? Is this going to be helpful to us in some way? Will this help the people listening in some way? Will this help our healing? Maybe there is some method to this madness after all.

Helping Ourselves

It might be that we would rather dig a hole in the ground with a plastic spoon and hide there until this whole sharing thing blows over. However, when we open our mouths and share our experiences, we are actually helping ourselves. Not in the way that grandma told us that if we drank enough castor oil, it would cure our acne. No, this sharing thing actually works.

There is something very powerful about voicing our thoughts. Hearing our own voice say aloud the things we have kept neatly tucked deep inside of us makes them real. It makes us real. They are just things, and now that we have said them, we can let go of the shame and guilt and just look at them like everyone else in the room will: they are just our stuff. Bonus points for sharing them in a safe space like a group in therapy or other meetings, because no one will judge us, either. See, that actually did help us, right?

Helping Others

We. Have. No. Idea. We literally have no idea until someone has shared with us exactly how much us sharing with others can help them. Our sharing validates them in ways that nothing else can. We are all alike. We do not need to feel alone. There are people in this world who have been through similar things as us.

When we share our stories with others, we build a common bond as nothing else could. We help others feel safety, commonality, and unity. We are all part of the same human race. We have all made mistakes, and we are all going through similar things. We are not alone. There is so much power when we share with others.

Finding Our Truths

When we open our mouths and share our thoughts in recovery, we find our truths. We may not be a great public speaker. In fact, communicating publicly may be very difficult for us. But in this setting, it really is the thought that counts, and as we are able to get those thoughts out there, we learn more about ourselves. As we hear the words coming from our mouths, there may be many different emotions: shame, guilt, blame, disgust, self-loathing, embarrassment, and more. But as we speak them, we realize that we have the power to change our future story. We find out more about the person we want to be, about the stories we hope to tell in our future. Sharing our experiences out loud helps us to find our truths.

Healing Our Wounds

When we share our experiences, it has the strange effect of healing. No, not like grandma’s castor oil. Actual healing from the pain that we have kept inside of us. We can speak about our experiences, about our emotions, and we might even emote into a blubbering mess or a raving lunatic while we are at it. That’s okay. That is what helps us to process our pasts and helps us to learn about ourselves and to feel again.

The more we learn about what has caused us to drink or use drugs, the more we are able to heal the pain we tried to numb. When we share with others, it may feel like we are ripping off the Band-Aid to our wounds. But actually, it is more like a salve for our wounds. We draw strength and healing from speaking about our experiences in front of other people.

Empowering Ourselves

Of all of the ways that sharing helps us, the biggest is perhaps empowering. When we share our experiences in a public setting, we own it. Like it or not, we have to own up to whatever has happened. Sometimes, saying it out loud has the opposite effect that we think it would have: instead of embarrassing us, it actually normalizes it. We realize that we are human. Whether it is shame from something that happened to us or guilt from something that we did, we realize that we are human beings and that everyone has a story to tell. This empowers us to keep sharing and keep growing.

There are so many reasons that we share in recovery, and all of them help someone as part of their growth. Sharing helps other people, but it helps us even more. Contact Enlight today and share your way to recovery with people just like you. Call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts. Someone is waiting to hear your story, they need to hear you share.

How Can I Explore Practicing Empathy?

Ultimately, addiction makes us very, very selfish. In fact, it’s not even selfishness so much as we become a slave to our substance addiction. Nothing else matters, and certainly, no one else matters. Even if we were well-balanced with our social skills prior to our substance use, when we are active in our addiction, we tend to lose all empathy. When we choose recovery, we have the opportunity to explore empathy in our lives.

Empathy is the capacity to understand how someone else feels, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. A lot of people have problems “reading” other people’s feelings, so we can’t be disappointed in ourselves if it doesn’t come naturally. But it is something that most of us can learn if we make a concerted effort. Learning empathy is a skill that not only helps us in our own recovery, it helps us to be more compassionate towards our fellow human beings.

Make Eye Contact

If the eyes are the mirror to the soul, then we should really try looking in that mirror to understand what someone else is feeling. This can be so hard for so many people! It is not a skill that comes naturally to many of us. And sometimes, even if we try to make eye contact, the other person may not reciprocate. We can only control ourselves, though.

Making eye contact is a non-verbal gesture that indicates to the other person that we care about them. It also provides feedback to us and helps us to match them emotionally. When we make the effort, it is amazing at how much communication is possible without even using any words.

Give Your Full Attention

We as human beings tend to be a little selfish, and sometimes we can monopolize a conversation to make it about us. Empathy is about the other person, though, so we need to close our mouths and give our full and undivided attention when they are telling their story. Even if we feel like we have something important to add to their story, when someone else is sharing, we need to close our mouths and open our ears.

This can also be hard for those of us who are easily distracted. When someone else is talking, it is very important for us to remain focused and listen, even if they like to talk a lot. If for some reason, we get distracted, it is probably better to apologize and ask them to repeat from wherever we last remember than to keep pretending that we know what they said when we didn’t. Ideally, though, we find coping skills to pay attention the entire time.

Listen and Hear

There is a difference between listening to what someone is saying and actually hearing it. Listening means that we pay attention to them when they are saying the words. Hearing means that we understand what they are trying to communicate. Hearing is absolutely a next-level skill compared to just listening, but it is a big part of having empathy.

For example, imagine that we are in treatment and someone is sharing a story about their childhood, something traumatic that happened. If we merely listened, then we might be able to offer some details of the story back if asked. However, if we truly heard them, then we would be able to explain how the trauma made the person feel, too.

Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

This is the action part of having empathy. It is not actually literally putting our feet in someone else’s shoes, it is imagining being in their situation. It is the complex and advanced skill of setting ourselves, our thoughts, concerns, and distractions aside, and imagining what it would be like to be another human being.

What is happening to them? What is their past, and how is it affecting them now? How do they feel about what has happened or what is happening to them? Can we truly step outside ourselves and try to imagine how they are feeling?

Empathy isn’t the same as sympathy, where we feel sadness or pity for someone who is experiencing something that is a negative stressor. Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in their shoes in good times and in bad. To feel what they are feeling, no matter where they are on the emotional spectrum.

In order to have empathy, we must open our hearts to another human being and find compassion. We look in their eyes, read their facial expressions, their body language, and listen to their words to be able to understand what they are feeling, instead of how we feel. We set ourselves aside to put ourselves in their shoes.

Anyone can explore empathy when they enter recovery. Enlight can help you or a loved one develop the skills to be more compassionate and to develop empathy for others. Call us today at (805) 719-7954 to speak to one of our admissions experts.

Why Do We Need Recovery?

Some of us have lost everything. Literally everything. All we have is what is left of our health, along with this chronic illness called addiction. Some of us act a little sooner than others, but the one thing we all have in common is that our addiction is in control of our lives, not us. We could continue down the path we are on, and eventually, become just another statistic. But for some reason, we don’t. For some reason, we choose recovery. Why?

Someone Else

We have seen the television interventions, and maybe ours was not unlike those ones. It is often one or more loved ones who care about us and see destructive behaviors and give us the push toward recovery. For some of us, that is enough, but for others, we may not have long term success when we enter recovery because of someone else’s recommendation, no matter how loving it was intended. Still, it is a wake-up call and a catalyst and is always a good enough reason to reach for wellness.

To Save Our Relationships

Ultimatums are very powerful in our decision-making process. It might be a spouse or parent or someone else in our lives that put their foot down and tells us to get help or get out. While this seems like we would always want a loving relationship bad enough to do anything to save it, addiction can be more powerful than even family bonds or other bonds of the heart. But saving a relationship is a great reason for us to choose recovery.

To Save Our Lives

We have had our fun, and now we have health problems. Serious health problems. Maybe even potentially fatal health problems. Perhaps our doctors have told us to sober up or we will die. When faced with our own mortality, sometimes, that is enough to jolt us into action. Despite the power of addiction, there is always a little part of us that wants to live, wants to be healthy. And recovering our lives quite literally is a very important reason to seek treatment.

Because We Really Screwed Up

Addiction allows us to do things that we would never otherwise do. Ever. Perhaps our rock bottom involves criminal activity. Perhaps while drunk or high, we caused an accident or someone died because of our negligence. Maybe we lost our job, our home, our family, and we have nowhere else to go. While in active addiction, we really screwed up, and now we have been startled by our actions into reaching out to get the help we need so this never happens again.

We Want to Be Human Again

Some of us just get tired of being a slave to drugs or alcohol. We get tired of feeling nothing and then numbing the nothingness. Maybe we are tired of missing out on the lives of those we love because our addictions pull us away emotionally and/or physically. Perhaps we just miss feeling… feeling true love, feeling raw, emotional pain, feeling joy and feeling sadness. When we look in the mirror, we don’t even see ourselves anymore, just a vacant face that is tired of having to find that next drink or that next fix. We want to feel human again.

For Us

The best and most powerful reason is when we Recover Life for ourselves. Self-motivation is one of the best recipes for success, particularly when it comes to addiction recovery. We are tired of being motivated only by substances, we want to have our freedom back. We are tired of disappointing or hurting others in our lives, we want to have our credibility back. We are tired of feeling alone, even if we are surrounded by others. We remember that we used to do and be and enjoy so many different things, and we want that person back.

All of the Above

Perhaps our choice is made by a combination of the reasons listed above, or maybe every single one of them. Maybe we have waited until the addiction has impacted every single facet of our lives. There is no wrong reason to choose recovery. We each make the commitment when we are ready. We all have different motivations and different ways we experience addiction. What we do share in common is the will to live, the desire to improve our situations and break free of our addictions. That motivation will drive us to recovery. And the sooner we choose recovery, the more of our lives we have left to truly live again.

These reasons are just a few of the reasons that we recover. But the external reason we choose recovery is not as nearly as important as just simply making the decision and beginning our recovery journey. We really only have our addictions to lose, and everything else to gain in life. What is the reason that you will choose recovery? That choice is yours. To take your life back, call us today at (805) 719-7954.

How Do I Learn to Trust?

Trust. It’s a powerful word. For some people, it seems to come naturally. But for many of us who have come from poverty, dysfunction, abuse, and/or addiction, it may be like a foreign language to us. When we add our own addictions, as well as the consequences of them, then it may seem like climbing Mount Everest to even think that we could ever trust anyone. How can we ever trust family, trust friends, or trust ourselves?

However, when we choose recovery, we learn that there are a lot of things we can do that we never thought possible. Finding trust in ourselves and those around us is just one of the many blessings we learn when we do the work to build a new life. These are some steps we can take to find trust in our lives:

1) Surrender

The first step is to surrender. Let go of everything we thought we knew, all of the things we learned with our dysfunctional relationships, and all of the judgments we have been holding onto about ourselves. We might even physically and symbolically step away from the trauma of not trusting others, not trusting ourselves.

We can also pray or meditate and wash our minds clean of the thought processes surrounding trust. We can ask for strength to have an open mind about our future. That as we are making so many changes in our lives, we can have the power to impact our relationships, too, and that we will find people we can trust and depend upon.

2) Forgive

The next step is to forgive. We need to forgive those who have broken our trust. We need to forgive ourselves for any perceived faults for our trusting in them. Just forgive, letting go of the pain and embarrassment or whatever else we are attaching to broken trust.

Most importantly, we need to forgive ourselves for not being able to trust ourselves. Where have we made choices that made us untrustworthy, either to ourselves or others? We need to acknowledge our mistakes and then forgive ourselves for them. We can trust ourselves again because we are making new choices. And we can forgive ourselves for whatever has happened in the past.

3) Forget

It is one thing to forgive, but it is another to truly forget. Erasing the past is hard to do when we have so much pain and trauma attached to it. But if we are truly going to be able to trust again, then we need to cleanse our minds of everything and everyone that has broken our trust in the past. All of those decisions that others made that hurt us. All of the people who didn’t show up for us. All of the choices we made that damaged our own trust in our selves or others’ trust in us. We need to take a big eraser and wipe the slate clean.

Part of forgetting is also to remember to stay in the present. When we are anchored in the here and now, focused on the choices and people in front of us, we are more prepared to leave the past in the past and to be able to trust. Here. Now.

4) Take a Chance

The scariest part of finding trust is to take a chance and trust someone again. This can seem insurmountable. If it is not working, then we probably need to go back through the first three steps and see what we are hanging on to still.

The telling part will be when we notice that we are actually already trusting. We are trusting in our facility or outpatient program to help us heal. We are trusting in the people around us by confiding in them and sharing our stories. We are trusting in ourselves by staying, and by showing up and working every day in our recovery. With these skills in place, we are more prepared to take a chance on ourselves and others in our lives and trust.

5) Reward Faith

To trust in ourselves or others requires faith. We must believe that trust will be fulfilled, and we must be willing to put our trust out there, risking failure. Having lived with failed trust, that of ourselves or others, we of all people should be able to acknowledge and reward faith.

When someone keeps our trust, we can thank them for being trustworthy. Not only will it help them to feel validated for being trusted, but it will help us to remember that our trust has been rewarded, too. The same goes for when we keep our own trust, by making a good choice or fulfilling an assignment. We can acknowledge that we are worthy of trust. This will help heal and reinforce the positive choices we have worked so hard to implement in our lives.

Learning to find trust is part of healing ourselves. Regardless of our past, we can learn new ways of living, including trust in ourselves and others. If we are willing to take these steps, we can learn to trust. That empowers us to build new relationships with others and to be confident in our own choices and believe in ourselves again. To begin recovery and learn to trust, call us today at (805) 719-7954 and speak to one of our admissions experts.