Wow, it's been a long time since our son was home... 15.5 months, to be exact. In 2 days, he will fly into town, and step back into the city, town, and home he left so abruptly in the middle of the night, so long ago. The idea of returning home is beyond exciting to him, and we are thrilled he is finally making this trip home ... but you and I know it comes with it's own force of nature called "triggers."
Spending time with him where he's now living is something we cherish each month. Every time we see him, he is in a better place, physically and mentally. He is healthy, has matured by leaps and bounds, has grown taller by 2 inches from when he left, and has gained 50-yes, FIFTY pounds! And he is not fat, he's slim and trim, and gorgeous I might add-- ok, I'm his mom. It's just that he was a 6'1", 125 lb. drug addicted, junk food eating shadow when he left home so long ago. Now, he is taking good care of himself, eating healthy foods, plays sports, deals with his emotions in a healthy way, and talks with his family like we are people he values and wants to be with.
Those dang triggers... we all have them. What is a trigger?, you might ask...
A "trigger" of addiction involves any stressor or high-risk situation that sparks a thought, feeling, or action to use drugs/alcohol. This spark, which is experienced as a temptation or desire to use, is called a "craving" or "urge". So, triggers can lead to cravings and urges to use.
Spending time with our son recently has found me stopping to pick up discarded cigarettes and put them in the trash (eew), alerting shop keepers to discarded 1/2 drunk glasses of beer, etc. I told our son that I will not always be able to clean sweep his triggers away for him. That he will need to find a way to manage these triggers on his own...
How does one successfully avoid triggers that can spark a possible relapse? That, as one of my Epic Moms so easily answers, can be summed up in three little words:
People, Places and Things.
From Helpguide.org: While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use:
- Make a break from old drug buddies. Don’t make the mistake of hanging out with old friends who are still doing drugs. Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, destructive habits.
- Avoid parties, bars and clubs, even if you don’t have a problem with alcohol. Drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to relapse. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.
- Be up front about your history of drug use when seeking medical treatment. If you need a medical or dental procedure done, be up front about your history and find a provider who will work with you in either prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary. You should never feel ashamed or humiliated about previous drug use or be denied medication for pain; if that happens, find another provider.
- Use caution with prescription drugs. Stay away from prescription drugs with the potential for abuse or use only when necessary and with extreme caution. Drugs with a high abuse potential include painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication.
So, this weekend we are going to celebrate my son's return home, and help him successfully manage those dang triggers. We are going to keep him surrounded in care, and hold him up emotionally as he makes his first venture back on his home turf. And then, after only 28 hours, we are going to return him to his safe environment up north where he can process those freaking triggers, and make a plan on how best to manage them the next time he returns home. Which, I hope, will be very soon. Or, at least, when he is good and ready...