When memories trigger behavior, what is an addict to do?

I’ve already written about one reason why cravings make quitting difficult. However, cravings and triggers are not just abstract concepts; they are well known, important players in addiction research and I think they deserve some more attention.

What are triggers?

A trigger can be thought of as anything that brings back thoughts, feelings, and memories that have to do with addiction (like a computer reminding a sex addict of porn). In addiction research, these are often simply called cues. The word comes from learning research in which a reward (or punishment) is paired with something (the cue). For instance, in Pavlov’s classic experiment, a dog heard a bell ring right before it would get served its daily portion of meat.

Dr. Adi JaffeDr. Adi Jaffe is an addiction treatment expert trained at UCLA. However, before he got involved in the field of addiction research and treatment, he was a drug dealer and meth addict himself. He incorporates his own personal experience with drugs and his over the top lifestyle into his treatment methodology. After being arrested 4 times and serving two stints in a rehab, he managed to get his life back on track. He has now published several articles and given several speeches on the subject matter of addiction. He now writes for Psychology.

Editor: Jafar Ali

The dog quickly learned to associate the bell with food, and would begin salivating as soon as the bell would ring, even before the food was presented. In this case, the bell was the cue, and food the reward it was paired with. The story in drug addiction is similar. I’m sure many of you can relate to the overwhelming memories and emotions that seem to come out of nowhere when you hear music you used to get high to or pass a street where you used to buy drugs (or sex). Each of those examples is a trigger that is simply bringing about a similar reaction to Pavlov’s dog’s salivation. Seeing these things, or hearing them, creates an immediate response to the reward that it was paired with, the drug!


Here is a video by Dr Sadaqat on the topic of managing triggers in addiction
Dr. Sadaqat Ali talks about Drug addiction prevention