• Erik Frederickson - Life Coach and Recovery Coach

Recovery Lingo - What on earth are "triggers?"

Updated: Oct 11

I believe that one of the biggest reasons people go back to addiction is their inability to conquer their triggers.

In early recovery I recall being triggered by many things. I would hear an old song that I used to listen to while drinking or using and the memories would come back. I would see an old friend that I used to party with, or a location I used to party at, and the memories would come flooding back. I didn't know how to deal with it, and it made it more difficult.

When I learned what was going on, and what I needed to do, it empowered me to stop feeling helpless because of my wild past. It then positioned me to overcome the spiritual attacks and live free from the shame and guilt of it all.

Years and years of active addiction can burrow thinking patterns deep into our mind. Those pathways don’t disappear just because we evict the drugs and alcohol.

Recently I saw a Ted Talk that gave me some new insights about what goes on psychologically when we get triggered. Here is a quote from the speaker.

”When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.

Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90


This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.

After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.” ―Jill Bolte Taylor