May 6, 2023

Triggers and Cravings: Coping Strategies in Addiction Recovery

Embarking on the journey toward lasting recovery from addiction can be challenging but also a testament to one’s resilience and determination. This article explores the essential coping strategies for dealing with triggers and cravings in recovery, as provided by the Massachusetts Center for Addiction. Discover the tools and resources that can empower you to navigate through potential obstacles and maintain your sobriety, ultimately leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

If you’re struggling with addiction and find it difficult to cope with triggers and cravings, Massachusetts Center for Addiction can provide the tools and resources needed to manage your addiction and maintain lasting recovery.

What are Triggers and Cravings in Addiction Recovery?

Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. It’s also one that requires ongoing effort and motivation. Individuals on the road to recovery will face many challenges. Two of the biggest challenges recoverees face are triggers and cravings. With the right coping strategies, support, and mental health tools, recovery & long-term sobriety are possible. 

Triggers in addiction recovery are situations, emotions, or external cues that create an urge to return to substance abuse. These triggers can be challenging to manage but are essential to address for maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse.

Some of the most common triggers include:

  1. Stress: High levels of stress can be a significant relapse trigger, as individuals may resort to substance use as a coping mechanism for stress relief.

  2. Negative emotions: Feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, or frustration can trigger cravings, as substances may have previously served as a way to numb or escape these emotions.

  3. Positive emotions or celebrations: Happy events or celebrations can also act as triggers, as individuals may associate substance use with having a good time or marking a special occasion.

  4. Peer pressure or social situations: Being in the company of others who are using substances, or facing peer pressure to use, can create a strong urge to return to substance use.

  5. Exposure to drugs or alcohol: Seeing, smelling, or being around drugs or alcohol can evoke cravings and tempt individuals to use again.

  6. Anniversaries or milestones: The memory of specific dates, such as the anniversary of a loved one’s death or another significant event, can trigger emotional distress, leading to a desire for substance use.

  7. Boredom or lack of structure: A lack of structure or engaging activities in daily life can lead to boredom, which may prompt individuals to seek excitement or fulfillment through substance use.

  8. Overconfidence or complacency: Believing that one has their addiction under control and no longer needs support or ongoing recovery efforts can create vulnerability to relapse triggers, as individuals may let their guard down and underestimate the power of triggers.

Identifying triggers is a big part of relapse prevention for recovering individuals.

We have become stuck in how we understand our “triggers” as those dealing with addiction. Our culture has led us to believe that somehow experiencing difficult situations is a psychic commentary on our ability to withstand life and succeed. What if we began looking at our “triggers” in a new light – messages from the soul to integrate, not intrusive feelings looking to destroy our lives? Corey Gamberg, LADC II

Cravings in Addiction Recovery

Cravings are intense urges to use drugs or alcohol that often occur during addiction recovery. They are a natural part of the process and can be triggered by various factors, such as emotions, environments, or social situations. Cravings can be both physical and psychological, and they can range from mild to overwhelming.

Recognizing and managing cravings effectively prevents relapse and maintains long-term sobriety. Developing healthy coping strategies, such as distraction, mindfulness, deep breathing, or reaching out to a support network, can help individuals in recovery to navigate through cravings and stay committed to their recovery journey.

Coping Strategies Offered by Massachusetts Center for Addiction

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction offers various coping strategies to help individuals deal with triggers. Resisting cravings is tough, but ways to help you manage them exist. We have some tips that can help you deal with triggers and cravings that make you want to give in. These coping strategies include:

Emotional regulation

Emotional regulation is one of the most important things for those in recovery to learn. Understanding how to manage and process emotions is important. Feeling emotions healthily is critical for maintaining sobriety. Develop emotional regulation skills in treatment. Skills like journaling, ongoing therapy or counseling, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation.

Engaging in healthy habits

Replace unhealthy habits like substance abuse. Creating healthy habits can help individuals manage their cravings more effectively. Exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and engage in healthy hobbies. These are all ways to be healthier in general.

12-step programs

12-step programs provide a crucial social support element. Popular programs include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Both can provide support and tools for those in all stages of recovery. Alcoholism is commonly addressed in these programs, for example.

Practicing self-care

Making self-care a priority can help build resilience. This lowers the overall risk of relapse. Self-care includes sleeping enough, eating a balanced diet, and taking time out for yourself. 

Building a support system

One of the most important elements of any recovery is support. Build a strong support system of family, friends, and treatment professionals. This helps improve recovery outcomes. Intensive outpatient programs and aftercare programs are ideal for building this support network.

Massachusetts Center for Addiction Can Help Build a Strong Recovery Support System 

As we mentioned, a strong support system is crucial for a successful recovery. It helps not only maintain sobriety but mental health during addiction recovery. We provide a comprehensive addiction treatment program with a holistic, multifaceted approach. 

Each individual gets a customized treatment plan for their unique needs. The Massachusetts Center for Addiction approach incorporates mindfulness and meditation. These help individuals develop more effective coping strategies and maintain sobriety.

The Role of Mindfulness and Meditation in Massachusetts Center for Addiction’s Programs

Mindfulness and meditation have a significant role in our treatment plans. The treatment program helps build self-awareness and emotional regulation. It also teaches strategies for stress reduction. 

These are all indispensable for maintaining sobriety. Many individuals face the greatest relapse risk during stressful times. Another risk is in times of heightened or challenging emotions. Both situations can exacerbate triggers and cravings.

Addiction Recovery Positive Affirmations and Visualization Techniques

Positive affirmations and visualizations are other tools we use. Both can be powerful for staying motivated. They can also reinforce the commitment to recovery. By practicing these techniques, individuals in recovery can get several benefits. 

They can build confidence and self-esteem. They also help maintain a positive mindset. Positivity is essential for those in recovery.

Here are some examples of affirmations and visualizations:


  1. “I am worthy of a healthy and fulfilling life.”

  2. “I am stronger than my addiction.”

  3. “I can handle challenges and overcome obstacles.”

  4. “I forgive myself for my past and embrace my future.”

These are only examples. Choose affirmations that resonate with you.

Visualization Techniques

Visualization is creating a mental image of your desired outcome. Here are some to try. You can learn more about our treatment programs.

See your sober self

Picture yourself sober in a fulfilling life without drugs or alcohol. Imagine all of the positive changes you’ve made.

Overcoming a craving

Imagine you’re in a triggering situation. You’re experiencing a difficult craving. You think of the coping skills you’ve learned. You imagine yourself overcoming the craving with the new skills.

See your big milestone

Create a mental image of a milestone that you’re achieving. Maybe it’s one year clean. Maybe it’s one month clean. You picture yourself celebrating this milestone. 

Picture your support

A major element in recovery is support. Picture yourself surrounded by a massive support network. Friends and family all gather to cheer you on. You’re maintaining your recovery with that support.

How Massachusetts Center for Addiction Can Help You in Your Recovery Journey

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction is a leader in evidence-based treatment programs. Our comprehensive treatment programs are designed to support recovering individuals in all stages. 

These programs and services include:

  • Individual counseling: one-on-one counseling with a therapist can help provide introspection. They can help develop coping strategies for triggers and cravings. They can also help learn about difficult emotions and thoughts. 

  • Group therapy: participating in group therapy can create additional support. This support comes from peers at various stages of recovery. Group therapy can help individuals feel a sense of community again. They also promote accountability.

  • Family therapy: involving family members in therapy can help make home support systems stronger. It can also help build communication skills for family members. The sessions promote open and honest communication and understanding.

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. By using FDA-approved medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone, individuals can manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, ultimately reducing the risk of relapse. This comprehensive approach to treatment addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: For individuals facing addiction and mental health disorders, dual diagnosis treatment offers integrated care that simultaneously addresses both issues. This approach ensures that the underlying causes of addiction are addressed while also providing support for managing mental health symptoms. Tailored therapy, medication management, and ongoing support are essential components of dual diagnosis treatment, leading to improved recovery outcomes.

Comprehensive Support for Your Recovery Journey with Massachusetts Center for Addiction

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction aims to provide the most effective, evidence-based treatment options to support individuals in their recovery journey by offering a wide range of programs and services.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Reach out to the Massachusetts Center for Addiction today. You can speak with an addiction expert in private. They can help you plan your next steps. Get an individualized treatment plan and start recovery today. 

MCA Staff
Written By

MCA Staff

The Massachusetts Center for Addiction expert staff is dedicated to helping individuals overcome... Read More

Contact Us



1515 Hancock Street, Suite 300
Quincy, MA 02169

Phone Number

24/7 Support

Start your recovery with
Massachusetts Center for Addiction

Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call today and begin your journey toward long-term recovery.

MCA Contact Form