Understanding the Physical and Psychological Triggers of Addiction

The journey to sobriety is fraught with many dangers. The biggest ones are the addiction triggers, which push many patients towards a relapse. However, you are not alone on this journey. The therapists at our Durham rehab center will help you find the willpower to resist the temptation of using drugs again.

Let us understand what these triggers are and what to do whenever you experience one.

What Are Addiction Triggers?

The American Psychological Association defines a trigger as a stimulus that elicits a reaction. Addiction triggers are both external, or physical and internal, or psychological. They refer to all the situations, emotions, people, and objects that make you want to take drugs.

Each patient has their own personal triggers because they are deeply connected with

the reasons that first determined them to try drugs. However, specialists have identified a series of common triggers, which we will discuss here in detail.

Physical Addiction Triggers

Physical or outside triggers refer to everything around the patient encouraging or determining them to procure and use drugs. The four categories of physical triggers are:


One of the key advice rehab therapists give patients is to avoid the group of people they were spending time with when they were using drugs. Many people try drugs as a result of peer pressure or trying to fit in with a group of people at school or work.

The most common types of people that may trigger addiction are:

  • Drug dealers
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Former or new romantic partners
  • Neighbors.


Even some places may bring out a need to start using drugs again. These are not just the locations where the patient was using drugs, but also some that are similar to them, such as:

  • Hotel rooms
  • Bars and clubs
  • Bathrooms
  • Downtown area
  • A friend’s house.

While it is possible to avoid seeing people who trigger drug addiction, our Durham rehab center specialists know that it is unfeasible to try to stay away from all these types of places. Thus, our goal is to teach patients coping mechanisms, which allow them to stop associating these places with drug use.

social gatherings can trigger your addiction


Many things can trigger the temptation to relapse. From drug paraphernalia and empty pill boxes to cash and credit cards, the list is very long. One of the things the patient has to do during rehab treatment is to identify all these triggering objects.

Thus, the therapist can come up with ideas for coping mechanisms and add new types of treatments to the therapy plan.


Some of the riskiest situations that may trigger a former addict are:

  • Hanging out with friends who are also using drugs
  • Listening to a specific type of music
  • Attending parties where drugs are available
  • On payday
  • After an argument or a romantic breakup
  • Being alone in the house for a period of time.

Psychological Addiction Triggers

Psychological triggers are various types of emotions. Some of them can be positive, such as:

  • Confidence
  • Celebratory feeling
  • Excitement
  • Passion and arousal
  • Feeling strong and energetic.

Of course, negative emotions are also a powerful trigger for drug use, especially fear, anxiety, jealousy, depression, and loneliness. It is important to recognize the source of this feeling and start applying the coping mechanism taught in therapy.

Finally, even normal feelings of boredom, sadness, tiredness, and frustration can push a former addict toward relapse.

What to Do When Experiencing These Triggers

You cannot exclude all the potential triggers from your life. But you can learn how to handle the situations when you start craving drugs again. The most important things to do are:

  • Continue attending therapy sessions after the end of the treatment
  • Find a support group and attend meetings
  • Join a gym or find a hobby involving physical activity
  • Spend quality time with family and friends who have a positive influence on your life
  • Try mindful meditation.

The Specialists at Our Durham Rehab Center Can Help You Resist Triggers

When you walk out of our center after completing the treatment, remember that our door is always open whenever you need help. We know how important post-recovery support is for former addicts, especially when they have to deal with the triggers.

So don’t forget to put our number on speed dial and call our Durham rehab center whenever you need our support: 984-223-5341!