I’m not Dr. Phil. I’m not an addiction professional and I don’t have a single certification to my name. I’m a garden variety drunk who has found a way to stay sober through Alcoholics Anonymous. This is just my opinion — I have nothing to back it up, except my own experience — but I don’t believe in in “triggers”. Triggers are jargon from treatment centers; not A.A. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’re not “real” or “true”. I’m just pointing out that it’s a word made up by people who stand to make a lot of money if you relapse. I’ve seen lists of “Warning signs of relapse”. I think they’ve covered the gamut. If they’re true… well, we’re all screwed. I’ve got at least one of those going on every day of my life.

The word “triggers” is similar to “stress”. Stress is not a psychological term. Stress is an engineering term indicating the effect of time, weight and environment on materials. Doctors have usurped the term and applied it to OUR lives: yours and mine. Now there is something that we cannot cure by ourselves. We are diagnosed with a pill deficiency, which they and Big Pharma can cure for the proper monetary contribution.

But when we look at it, isn’t stress really a mixture of fear, uncertainty, self-doubt and either too large of a workload or poor time management… maybe a few other things? If we tackle each of those individually — because we KNOW how to cure those — we find that the “stress we could not cope with” has dissipated all by itself.

Let’s simplify that list of “Warning signs of relapse” — the one I saw was 37 items — down to just: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I would invite you to think of those four things a different way: those are the things that “I don’t like to feel”. Therefore when I feel those things I want to feel different. Alcohol has always been the thing that helped me to feel different, more comfortable… So for those who have not learned a different way of life, drinking may be a solution for those four things (and anything else that makes them feel uncomfortable).

And THAT is what the problem has always been: alcohol — which has created problems in our lives in the past — often presents itself as the solution to each new problem. Our solution — alcohol — causes more pain than the actual problem.

Those items CANNOT be triggers — or cause me to relapse — because I know I never have to drink again. There is no such thing as something that will “cause me to drink”. My father dying didn’t cause it. Hell, living homeless didn’t make me drink and I can assure you I was hungry, angry, lonely and tired every minute of it. There are problems that every human being on the face of the earth has to face every day. 90% of these people never think of taking a drink to “solve” the death of a loved one, losing their job or not knowing how to dance. We call these facing “life on life’s terms”. We don’t like them, but we learn to deal with them more effectively.

You never have to drink again. You have steps that can help you get through any situation life throws at you. Therefore there is no such thing as “Warning signs of relapse” or “triggers to drink/use”. There are “Warning signs of feeling shitty”, but feeling shitty doesn’t mean you have to drink.

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I will be releasing stories there that won’t be released here. It will be a slightly different tone, and just 1 or 2 paragraphs at a time. Mini-stories…

This entry was posted in Early Sobriety, Feelings and Emotions, Relapse, Unfounded Personal Opinions. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Triggers

  1. Yup – agree with ya completely. I wrote something similar – and the first thing I said was “I don’t believe in triggers. There I said it”. I hear about “triggers” all the time, and it doesn’t make sense to me, in terms of AA and the program, that is. Either I have the obsession to drink or I don’t. That’s about it. I can walk into an liquor store and not be tempted to drink. Or, i can walk on eggshells all my life and be worried about every little thing triggering me to drink. Only the obsession to drink and a having no mental / spiritual defence against the first drink will get that bottle to my lips. not the streecar coming late, not me losing my job, not my wife nagging me, not court, not a bum knee, not anything. The mental obsession, untreated alcoholism will do that. The lyrics to an Aerosmith song won’t do it. I say all this in jest, and yet, I have heard all these things, and more. Where is the freedom in that all?

    Good stuff!


  2. AsJimSeesIt says:

    Yup – Beautifully put. It says in my Big Book — on page 101 — “We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.”

    I hate it when people get all high-and-mighty and say if you go to a bar to shoot pool you’re doing the program wrong, and you’re probably going to relapse. Truth is, if they CAN’T they must be doing something wrong.

    One of my best friends in the program works as a bartender. One of my sponsees is “in the hospitality business”.

  3. Kees says:

    Thanks, I quit 28 days ago and just needed to read this. Thanks for this blog.

  4. hello there – i’ve just found your blog again after a while and came across the link to your facebook page – do you still have one? i love the stuff you write.

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