Triggers

Objectives

This module aims to help you explore and gain understanding of the following:

  • Understanding of the different types of triggers
  • Your own triggers

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What can trigger the urge to offend?

The concept of trigger has different names: e.g. cue, prompt, call to action and so on. Triggers are what precede thoughts, feelings and behaviour and can lead to emotional and behavioural responses.

There are different types of triggers:

Internal triggers:

Including thoughts, feelings and attitudes linked to lifestyle problems. Examples of Internal emotional triggers are feeling discontented, frustrated, bored, resentful, stressed and anxious.

External triggers:

These are like an alarm sounding- it could be something seen or heard. They can be situational and come from our daily routines e.g. walking through the kitchen may trigger us to open the fridge; going onto adult pornography websites may trigger sexual thoughts about accessing sexual images of children.

Physical triggers:

These can be drugs, medication, substance misuse and environmental factors e.g. having alcohol with friends can trigger the urge to smoke or seeing a pop up for pornography can trigger wanting to access a website containing sexual images of children.

Triggers often feature at the beginning of the cycle of offending and can prompt behavioural responses so being aware of your triggers is essential in increasing the ability to stop the cycle at the earliest opportunity.

On the worksheet identify your triggers under the headings- internal (including emotional), external (including sights and sounds), physical (including any drug or alcohol use). It is likely that you will have a number of triggers, sometimes these will work in isolation, other times it will be a combination.

Internal External Physical
Lonely Pop-ups Drinking alcohol

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Situational and environmental risks

Some places and situations present specific risks for people e.g. being alone at home late at night with internet access. These situational and environmental risks can become more risky if combined with risky thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This can provide the ingredients for a chain of unhealthy behaviour and trigger the offence cycle. It is therefore vital to recognise what situations and environments would be risky for you.

On the worksheet list what these situations and environments would be and why they are risky. Then identify what you would do to manage them.

Situation/Environment How to manage
At home late at night, alone, with internet access. Not go on the computer, have a bath, read a good book.

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Reflection

Give some thought to the triggers you have identified.

  • Are they things you can address on your own or do you need specialist support?
  • Are you always aware of your moods and how to deal with them?
  • Can you make changes to your environment to reduce your risks?

Recognising triggers to your offending is an important part of being able to change your behaviour. We now need to start looking at managing these triggers as this can help you minimise the risk of repeating your behaviour in the future.

If you want to discuss anything covered in this module, have struggled with working through the self-help material or just want the opportunity to work through the self-help site with a practitioner to guide you then please call the Stop It Now! Helpline for confidential support from our trained staff.

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