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Identifying Triggers

Triggers are things that cause you to react with feelings..often feelings about something from the past. The feelings can be good or bad. In the case of sex addiction, when we speak of triggers we mean things that make you feel bad or inappropriately sexually arouse--and therefore more likely to act out sexually.


It's important to recognize things that trigger you. It's especially helpful to identify them before they happen and take steps to minimize their impact on you. For example, if parties make you feel bad and you are going to be at one, then make sure you don't go alone. Plan to have someone with you--and it helps if you can talk to them on the spot about strong feelings if they arise.


Recovery is 99% about avoiding being in a bad place emotionally, and only 1% about getting yourself out of a bad spot. Often when a person is in a really bad place emotionally it can be too late. They are going to act out. Almost like an airplane that reaches a point of no return in its take off, an addict can reach a place where they simply are not going to stop themselves. They've lost their footing. Understanding your triggers can help you to avoid being in that place.


Print out this form for your use if you like. You can use a PDF version here.

Things That Trigger

Examples for You



  • Being around people who are shaming or with whom you have conflicts
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Dating/romance (including seeing old lovers, partners, etc.)
  • Coworkers
  • Authority figures



  • Old cruise haunts
  • Places that are heavily laden
  • with emotional memories



  • Auto accident
  • Performance evaluation at work
  • Souvenirs of past encounters

Toxic thoughts

  • "All or nothing" thinking, catastrophizing, other cognitive disortions

Toxic feelings


  • HALT - hungry, angry, lonely, tired
  • Anxiety, depression, shame

Toxic behaviors


  • Trading sex stories at work
  • Leaving late for an appointment