By Floyd Godfrey, LPC, CSAT candidate
Identification of “triggers” during the recovery process is very important. A trigger is anything that starts the sexual addiction cycle spinning. When addicts learn how to identify triggers that arise every day, they are better prepared to either avoid these triggers or pull away from them as they come. However, it’s challenging to recognize them in the beginning.
I like to have my clients in counseling for sexual addiction take a week and track their triggers using a chart. We can look at the record and formulate an action plan that directly correlates to the unique triggers that came up during the week. Typically there will be a variety of different triggers. Additionally, some tools will work better than others for certain triggers, so it’s important to do a little analyzing and preparing.
BLAHST is a very simple acronym that many support programs have used to help addicts recognize potential triggers. However, you might be able to create your own acronym that’s more personal to you once you’ve identified the most common triggers in your life. The idea here would be to “BLAHST” the temptations when the come up.
“B” stands for “Boredom.” Sometimes guys will get triggered simply because they have nothing to do. Too much time with too little excitement is not helpful. If the brain is left starved for fun it will wander back into more unhealthy directions to find any form of excitement. This is often the case for teenagers.
“L” stands for “Lonely.” This is very common. Remember that you could be at a party, in a room filled with people, and still feel lonely. A lack of connection, or sense of isolation, can instigate a deeper feeling of lonely.
“A” stands for “Angry.” Sometimes life presents frustration. It doesn’t matter what you are angry about, or with whom you are angry, the simple emotion of anger can be a trigger. This could also include memories from your past of things that happened which still make you mad. In this case the brain will seek out biochemicals to help you calm down, hence leading you back toward unhealthy stimulation that makes you feel better.
“H” stands for “Hungry.” When you haven’t eaten for periods of time, or you’ve been eating a lot of junk, it will be harder to think clearly. Needless to say, when you are not thinking clearly you will be more likely to slide into old patterns of coping. Keep in mind that “hungry” could also imply “emotional hunger.” In other words, you might be starved for companionship, affection, friendship or some other emotional need that’s been unmet.
“S” stands for “Stressed.” At times you are tense and stressed out, your brain looks for ways to either escape or bring peace back into the body. Any form of stress or anxiety can trigger the addictive response as a quick way to resolve the discomfort.
“T” stands for “Tired.” Similar to the physical trigger of hunger, when you are tired you are not going to be thinking clearly. Getting sleep deprived or working extremely long days will leave you worn out and more prone to addiction triggers.
The action plan that you develop should encompass tools that fit your unique triggers. Planning ahead for temptation is important, but try to be as efficient as possible so you don’t get discouraged. For example, you may plan to read your scriptures and then discover you still feel triggered because you were immensely lonely before you started. Perhaps a better tool in that moment might have been calling a friend or going to dinner with your buddies.
If you are struggling with triggers for sexual addiction, give us a call. We have specialty counseling services for sexual addiction in Mesa Arizona. (480) 668-8301.