The key to recovering from addiction lies not in just avoiding drugs and alcohol, but in structuring a life that promotes change. A person in recovery has to recognize and deal with the behaviors and triggers that led them to addiction in the first place. Many addiction treatment centers and 12 step circles teach the acronym H.A.L.T. to help identify triggers that could lead to drug or alcohol cravings.
What Is H.A.L.T.?
Aside from a synonym for “stop,” H.A.L.T. stands for Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tired. In the absence of proper coping mechanisms, these four feelings can nudge a person towards using a substance.
Hunger is a vital feeling that keeps us alive and well. We hunger not only for food, but for love, understanding, acceptance, and achievement. That’s why it’s important that we first treat ourselves well. While simple for others, keeping a healthy eating pattern presents a challenge for many on the path to recovery. Keep track of the intervals between meals, pay attention to nutrition, and take notes on how your body responds. On the emotional side, loved ones should ensure that they provide an open and nurturing atmosphere, free from stress and enabling factors.
Anger often crops up unexpectedly, and people in early recovery can struggle to address it in a healthy way. With proper coping mechanisms, we can convert anger into positive energy rather than taking it out on ourselves or others. First, we must understand what triggers the feeling. Next, we diffuse it. There are a number of ways to go about it. What works best depends on your personality and the nature of the anger. Physical exertion such as exercise, hitting a punching bag, or doing housework helps many people diffuse negative emotions and direct them in a positive manner. Some prefer to meditate or do yoga. Others prefer to convert the anger into creative energy by writing or drawing. Others would rather have someone to talk to and vent their emotions.
Perhaps more dangerous than anger is loneliness. The feeling may not refer just to being alone; people can feel like outcasts even when surrounded by peers and loved ones. In the worst case scenario, loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and ultimately depression. Communicate with someone who understands is absolutely vital to address these feelings. Going on a walk or jog with a friend, calling a sober support, attending an 12 step meeting, or sharing our thoughts with others in group counseling can lead to relief from loneliness. The most important step is to recognize that we are never alone and that there are people who can help.
It’s normal to feel physically or mentally tired after a long day. However, fatigue can have heavy repercussions on health, including depression, stress, and anger. Many find it difficult to get the required amount of sleep amid work, school, and other priorities. Eating well and exercising can help the body achieve a restful night’s sleep. If you constantly feel tired or lack energy, talk to your doctor or therapist about ways to get the rest you need and deserve.
Avoiding or resolving the feelings in H.A.L.T. can be extremely valuable on your path to recovery. Learn to recognize these feelings, and understand the mechanisms behind them. Don’t ignore them.
To learn more about recovery tools and inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, contact us today.