To Halt means to stop abruptly. The acronym for H.A.L.T. as many people in recovery know means hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. For recovering addicts and alcoholics, this word is how they monitor their state of physical and mental wellbeing. Paying attention to whether you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired is extremely useful to make the most of especially when you are in new recovery. Newly recovering addicts and alcoholics are experiencing a new way of life, which is challenging. They are learning how to adapt to being clean and sober and that’s a drastic change.
The acronym HALT helps recovering addicts remember to take care of themselves. When people are drunk or high, the last thing they pay attention to is whether or not they are eating, sleeping, feeling angry, or lonely. In fact, it is these very feelings that cause addicts and alcoholics to use or drink. Therefore, learning to take notice of their physical and mental state is how addicts learn to take care of themselves.
It is Possible You Have Experienced HALT
Everyone has times when they are experiencing hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. However, for people in recovery, these feelings can be dangerous. According to the medical researchers at The National Center for Biotechnology Information and their research on relapse prevention, an emotional relapse is the lack of self-care which includes eating enough, sleeping enough, and talking about your emotions.
During an emotional relapse, individuals are not thinking about using. They remember their last relapse, and they don’t want to repeat it. But their emotions and behaviors are setting them up for relapse down the road…The common denominator of emotional relapse is poor self-care, in which self-care is broadly defined to include emotional, psychological, and physical care…A simple reminder of poor self-care is the acronym HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. (NCBI)
Therefore, people in recovery need to practice high levels of self-care to prevent relapse as well as feel better overall. For many people in recovery, they are just learning about how much food, sleep, and emotional support they need to remain positive about their recovery, which lowers the desire to get high or drunk.
Hunger Can Lead to Bad Decisions
Feeling hungry causes a person to be easily confused and irritable. Experiencing confusion and irritability will lead to more upsetting emotions if hunger continues. Feeling hungry is often hard for people in recovery to recognize. Most addicts and alcoholics were able to go for days or more without eating. And for many addicts and alcoholics, they also used drugs and alcohol as a way to manage their weight. Once a person has recovered their instincts to eat normally, we learn that nourishing ourselves properly requires attention. The problem is that recovery is a slow learning process, but with eating, there isn’t exactly the time to get it wrong.
If a person is not giving their body the fuel that it needs, they will not respond to life’s challenges properly. Addicts and alcoholics who are now sober must break their old habits of starvation. A sober mind needs food. It may seem quite basic to remember to eat, but for recovering alcoholics and addicts this is a new way of existing. By providing the body enough food throughout the day, a person’s hormones and stress levels remain closer to normal.
Anger from Experiencing HALT
Anger is uncomfortable for anyone. For recovering addicts and alcoholics, getting angry is not always about anger but is about hurt feelings and fear. The emotions of recovering people are tender. Because they once used drugs and alcohol to cope with their emotions, when sober they must cope on their own. Anger covers for the sore spots of fear and hurt. Therefore, when a person in recovery gets mad, it is a good idea for them to check in with their support network to discover what is really bothering them.
Holding in anger will only lead to more fear, more hurt and from there, the cycle will continue until it becomes too much and the person may be headed towards a relapse. By asking for help when a person in recovery gets angry they are ensuring that they will not relapse. By ignoring anger, recovering people also miss the chance to dig up their painful emotions in order to heal them. It is always best to notice when or what makes you angry when you are in recovery. More than likely there will exist a common theme, that can be addressed thoroughly with a sponsor or with the help of a counselor.
The Loneliness can be Damaging
Feeling lonely when a person is recovering from addiction and alcoholism is usually normal. Beginning a new lifestyle, far removed from the old drug and alcohol abuse atmosphere, causes a person to feel out of place and lonely. The good news is that there are more and more people in recovery every day, and they are there to support each other. It is important to recognize whether or not the loneliness is lasting longer than a day or two. If this is the case, the likelihood of depression is possible. Depression is common among many alcoholics and addicts who are in recovery. These people are getting help for their depression-like they are for their recovery.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Being well-rested and not tired is a good feeling for your body, mind, and soul. For newly recovering addicts and alcoholics, their ability to fall asleep is often challenging. Like many others in recovery, the time that it takes sot to adjust to sleeping normally does occur within about six months. When a person is not sleeping enough, they are out of it and usually resent other people because they are drained. It is perfectly acceptable to try natural sleep remedies when you are in new recovery, and beyond.
The goal with HALT is to remind people in recovery to take care of themselves. Recovery is a lifestyle that requires effort and willingness to support it. By practicing HALT, people in recovery are protecting themselves from cravings, stress, worry, and fear. Being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired causes poor reactions and experiences. For addicts and alcoholics in recovery, they need to do whatever it takes to make their life experiences more positive.