High risk situations are the biggest trouble spots for individuals addicted to marijuana who are sober. Temptation is greater and triggers seem to exist around every corner, but high risk situations have potential to be disastrous. Avoidance, or staying away from situations which can trigger an early relapse, are the best bet. However, this may not be possible to avoid every person, place or activity which triggers thoughts of marijuana. Temptation can even come from triggers such as internal cues to smoke when stressed or anxious, which can only be handled with appropriate emotional tools rather than avoided altogether.
Negative emotions or stress are internal triggers for people to relapse on marijuana. External causes such as seeing or hearing about drug paraphernalia and peer or social pressure can create relapse triggers. There are also others situations which might trigger a desire to use marijuana.
Emotional – people, places and things serve as reminders of smoking marijuana and may even lead to cravings. Generally the thoughts associated come with happy feelings and reminders rather than the negative consequences of the actions. Minimizing exposure to these ‘triggers’ can help reduce temptation.
Negative/Positive States – marijuana is often used as a way to cope with negative emotions or celebrate positive ones. Coping with anger, stress, sadness or other negative emotions can trigger feelings of wanting to use marijuana. A desire to feel good and to enhance those feelings of celebration can also serve as a trigger. While not possible to stop these emotions from being present entirely, it is possible to regulate the reaction to them and lessen the strength of the trigger.
Interpersonal Conflict – Often stress within a family or peer group can lead to a desire to use marijuana as a coping mechanism. Arguments, fights or other discord can lead to feelings of not being able to handle the stress without the help of marijuana.
Handling High Risk Situations
There are some steps a person can take to cope better with high risk situations which might trigger relapse. Some of these include:
- Leaving a situation which feels unsafe and may trigger relapse
- Reduce exposure to cues by avoiding people who still smoke or social situations where smoking marijuana is still occurring
- Use a relaxation technique such as meditation, deep breathing or yoga
- Start a journal to note thoughts, feelings or places
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day to lower stress and bring about positive health benefits
- Call support network of peers and friends to hang out and enjoy time together
Knowing what triggers and situations to avoid is extremely helpful. It may be useful to write them down and put them on a mirror, refrigerator or wallet where they are easily seen and accessible in situations where it might be risky. By all means necessary, do what is required to stay sober and healthy. Even if it means changing lifestyle patterns to fit this new lifestyle, it is worth it in the end.
If you suspect yourself, a friend or family member needs help overcoming an addiction, contact Hired Power at 800-910-9299. Trained counselors and therapists are available to answer questions and provide support.