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Dangers of HALT

One of the most important things you’ll learn in rehab is to recognize and address your triggers before it’s too late. HALT — hungry, angry, lonely and tired — is a handy acronym many recovering addicts use to identify the most common triggers that lead to relapse. These are dangerous and risky states of being for recovering addicts.

Most people don’t think twice about skipping breakfast if they’re running late for work. If they don’t get enough sleep, they grab a cup of coffee. Getting mad at an annoying co-worker is just a normal day. Yet, the four emotional and physical conditions known as HALT are real and present dangers for those in recovery.

Practicing HALT during recovery helps you practice self-awareness so you can recognize when you’re most vulnerable to relapse.

Recognizing Triggers: Why Use HALT for Substance Misuse?

Triggers are emotions, behaviors or events that can cause you to crave using drugs or alcohol. These triggers vary from person to person. Part of preventing relapse is recognizing your individual triggers and putting strategies in place to help you deal with them.

You can eliminate some triggers easily, and that’s where the HALT method comes in. By quickly recognizing when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you can practice some self-care to get into a better physical and emotional condition, thus nipping relapse in the bud.

How to Practice HALT in Addiction Recovery

Sure, everyone gets hungry, angry, tired and lonely — what’s the big deal? Well, for those recovering from substance abuse, the HALT method can be a lifesaver. Here are a few ways you can use this strategy in your daily recovery.

H: Hungry

There’s a reason the term “hangry” was penned. Hunger pangs bring out the worst in anyone, leading to intense emotions, irritability and irrational decisions. When you don’t have enough fuel to make good choices, you may settle on making a snap decision you’ll regret. Try the following to ensure you never get caught off guard and hungry:

  • Carry healthy snacks such as fruit or granola bars
  • Eat a hearty breakfast
  • Make sure to stop for regular meals and snack breaks
  • Don’t snack on high-fat or high-sugar foods as these can drop your mood

A: Angry

Getting angry from time to time is a part of being human. However, dwelling on situations or people that make you mad can lead to reckless decisions, such as returning to substance abuse. Prevent anger from getting out of control by:

  • Trying to understand what’s causing your anger
  • Finding a way to express anger that doesn’t damage yourself or others
  • Confronting situations that bother you head on
  • Opening up about your anger instead of stuffing it down

L: Lonely

You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. You can feel isolated when surrounded by people. That’s why it’s essential to have a support network of friends, family and trusted individuals you can turn to when you feel tempted to use. If you’re feeling lonely:

  • Call someone in your support network
  • Attend a support meeting
  • Shake up your routine and go where other people are
  • Ask a friend to meet you for lunch or coffee

T: Tired

This may seem like the easiest trigger to address, but in our hectic culture, it’s easy to get burnt out and exhausted. Lack of sleep is dangerous, though, as it impairs your ability to make good decisions, intensifies your emotions and makes functioning that much harder. These uncomfortable feelings can easily turn into a trigger to use drugs or alcohol.

Here are some ways to make sure you’re getting enough sleep:

  • Go to bed early
  • Try not to think about things that make you stressed or anxious right before bed
  • Stop using electronics an hour or two before bed

Learn More About HALT Relapse Prevention at Gateway Foundation

HALT for addiction recovery can help you create a solid foundation that prevents relapse. At Gateway Foundation, we take the time to understand your triggers, so we can help you develop relapse prevention methods to use in your everyday life. Our evidence-based treatment programs are tailored to your specific needs, so you can walk the road to recovery free from substance addiction. To find out more, contact us today.

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