Addiction recovery is not only about avoiding drugs and alcohol. It’s also a time to reassess your thought-patterns and form new, positive habits. To change negative habits, many people refer to HALT, an acronym that reminds you to slow down and take a breather when you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. By noticing these feelings and finding proactive ways of addressing them, you can avoid relapsing into drug use.
The Purpose of HALT in Addiction Recovery
Although we may not realize it at the time, certain basic, biological feelings lead us to drug and alcohol abuse. Generally, people first turn to substances when they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and eventually, responding to these feelings with substances becomes habitual. Perhaps you get used to drinking when you are alone at night or make a habit of taking drugs after a hard day. During your addiction recovery, assess the reasons why you turn to drugs and the emotions that cause your cravings. Becoming aware of negative habits is the first step to making a positive change in your life.
During addiction recovery, hunger can have many meanings. First, it refers to actual physical hunger, the need for food, but it can also refer to emotional hunger, the need for attention, acceptance, and love. When you feel these feelings, find a way to treat yourself well. If you are physically hungry, eat good food. If you are emotionally hungry, call a friend, relative, or someone in your recovery program. Understanding hunger and addressing it properly lowers your chances of turning to drugs.
Anger is a complex emotion that is somewhat difficult to address. During your recovery program, first learn what causes your anger and work on addressing those problems. Second, find healthy ways to release your anger. Some people choose rigorous exercise, like running, hitting a punching bag, or practicing martial arts. Others choose more relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, or walking. For others, the best outlet is creativity and release their anger through music, writing, or painting. Everyone is different, and it is up to you to find an anger management strategy that works.
Like anger, loneliness is a complicated emotion. It can happen when we are alone at home or in a crowd of people. Although you may be used to dealing with your loneliness through drugs and alcohol, now is a time to form new habits. Like hunger and anger, first figure out what causes your loneliness. Second, figure out a way to address it: call a friend, go to an addiction recovery meeting, or join a community group or church. Even with you have nobody to talk to, simply being in public can alleviate the feelings of loneliness. In these situations, try reading at a coffee shop or going on a walk in the park. Although loneliness may be difficult to tackle at first, it gets easier over time.
Exhaustion is an easy feeling to ignore. With busy schedules and never-ending to-do lists, our bodies’ need for rest can seem like an inconvenience. Although it can be difficult to slow down in our fast-paced world, foregoing rest can take a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. When you are feeling tired, listen to your body and get some rest. Whether it’s a full night’s sleep or an afternoon nap, sleeping keeps your mind sharp and active. When you get enough rest, you are more likely to stay on the path to sobriety.