If you are currently in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction, you may already be using HALT as tool for maintaining your sobriety. The acronym HALT, is basically a tool to help you remember self care, one thing most of us addicts have never done well.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a prevalent problem in the world today. In fact, statistics show that one in eight Americans is addicted to drugs or alcohol and 40% of them have a concurrent nervous/mental disorder.
To say that a good recovery plan is needed would be the understatement of the year. We need all the help we can get, and this is one of the many tools that help us get through.
Unfortunately, getting off drugs or alcohol is not nearly as easy as it is to start. Your mind and body become physically and psychologically dependent upon these chemicals to function “normally”. The first step toward recovery is detox, which in many cases is done on an inpatient basis.
Some would say this is the most difficult part of recovery, however maintaining your sobriety is no walk in the park either. One of the most successful addiction treatments in the country is the 12-step program.
Here you learn the basics of staying clean and begin to form new friendships to replace the ones you will lose when you give up your addiction. HALT is one of the tools you may learn while working through the 12 steps.
What Does HALT in Addiction Recovery Stand for?
HALT is an acronym taught to recovering addicts that stands for Hungry, Angry>, Lonely and Tired, which are all high-risk times for relapse. While this may sound simple or even silly to someone who has never dealt with addiction, these kind of “tricks” actually do help.
Most people take for granted that they will eat when they are hungry, but an addicts mind and body work a little differently. You see during the course of a typical day addicts have one consuming passion, getting their fix. Hunger pains fade to the background, drowned out by a gnawing drive to get high, take a pill or become intoxicated.
This behavior becomes somewhat habitual over time and even once you have detoxed you might need to periodically ask, “Am I hungry?” Visit our connection between nutrition and addiction page to learn more.
This part of the acronym is probably a bit easier to understand most people have felt anger before and understand what a powerful emotion it can be. However, with an addict this feeling becomes something to be avoided which means when you are sober, angry feelings can be a trigger to self-medicate. Addicts need to examine themselves for anger, determine why they are angry and then decide if there is anything (other than getting trashed) they can do to change things.
Drug and alcohol abuse often starts among a group of friends or during your party days but as you sink deeper and deeper into addiction these “friendships” become toxic or even non-existent. Remember an addict’s primary function in life is to get or stay high as an avoidance technique.
Have you isolated yourself from friends and loved ones? Even if you bagan your addiction as a social event, it will end in extreme loneliness, which can continue through recovery. Learn to identify this feeling and take steps to prevent or alleviate it by attending meetings or talking with a friend.
Coming out into the light of day, many drug addicts and alcoholics find themselves without any friends, (because they are all still using many times). Watch for signs that you are lonely and then work to rectify the situation before you become tempted to ease your pain chemically.
Finally we come to tired, another one of those areas in life that most people take for granted. After all, if you are sleepy you should probably take a nap, right? With addiction, this may or may not be the case! Who has time to be tired when they are chasing a fix? It can come to the point where even if you are tired you “think” you need a drink, pill or toke to get any real sleep.
Sleep is like everything else in addiction, it comes second to getting a fix! Lack of sleep can cause all sorts of negative effects on the body including fatigue, depression, anxiety, frustration and more. All of these can then lead to self-medicating to alleviate your “pain”. Pay attention to your body’s cues to sleep and if you suffer with insomnia look for natural alternatives such as reading a book, a calming cup of tea or regular exercise.
There you have it, HALT in a nutshell! Addiction is a complex problem that involves both your physical body and your psyche, which is probably one reason it is so difficult to treat. Over the years physicians and therapists have tried a myriad of options including drug treatments, (a little ironic?) but the one plan that keeps plugging along and has helped the largest number of people are those that use the 12-step program.