One of the most important acronyms to know in recovery is HALT. HALT is not good. HALT is something you want to avoid. HALT will trip you up, tempt you, trigger you, and if you’re not careful, can lead you right down the path to a full-blown relapse.

            However, thankfully, HALT is something you can avoid.  You can steer clear of HALT if you are prepared and this acronym will have no power over you. If you plan ahead, listen to what your body is trying to tell you, and react in a positive way, HALT cannot wield its evil power over you, and you can stay clean, healthy, and successful with ease.

            So then, what is HALT? This acronym simply stands for four states of being that we all experience, but while can be lessened and controlled with simple to follow strategies.

The H stands for hungry. The A stands for angry.  The L is for lonely.  The T means tiredness.

Certainly, feeling these things is entirely natural and they are all a part of the human experience. But when left unchecked, they can quickly become triggers for people working on their recovery from drugs and alcohol. When we are hungry, we often get cranky, and that causes a variety of other problems. When we are angry, we get emotionally elevated and sometimes we look for sources of quick relief.  If we get lonely, we get emotional and negative and judgmental of ourselves, and we seek out comfort. When we are tired, everything seems so difficult, and everything is a chore – and when our minds are clouded with exhaustion, we may make decisions we will later regret.

HALT is dangerous, but it is not undefeatable. First and foremost, it’s wise to avoid experiencing any of these four emotions when possible, and there are strategies to keep each from occurring. But when they do occur – and they surely will, sometime or another – there are also ways to fight back against them, and to keep them at bay, and to keep yourself from succumbing to temptation. 

How to Avoid HALT

            A little planning can go a long way when it comes to battling HALT. Each of these feelings can be dealt with individually in order to develop a united front against them. You simply must plan ahead. Hunger, loneliness, and tiredness can be avoided with good planning; and although anger often arises without warning, there are ways to avoid that, too.

Hunger is perhaps the easiest of the four to avoid. You just have to eat. Eat three meals a day, and always be planning the next one.  If you know you get hungry between meals, plan healthy snacks. Always have food in your bag or in your car so if you get hungry in transit or while at work or an event, you have something to satiate you. Stock your cabinets and refrigerator with foods that you like. Always go shopping before you run out of food.

Also, pay attention to nutrition. Sure, you can eat fast food every day, but that’s not going to keep you happy and healthy. Eating fruits, vegetables, and protein and being aware of the quality of the foods you put in your body will give you energy and vitality. If you don’t know how to cook, learn. Read food labels. Consider the USDA guidelines and adhere to them the majority of the time. 

Good food is good fuel. Being well fueled will keep you on the right track.

            Anger is probably the most difficult of the four to avoid because often anger is triggered by an outside force and it sometimes comes on quickly without warning. Although it is difficult to avoid, there are strategies that can help you deal with it when it does arise. Communicating clearly and really taking time to listen to others can help you to avoid misunderstandings that can result in anger. Avoiding people who you don’t get along with can be helpful in extreme cases. Taking deep breaths when you feel your anger building can help to calm you and give you a moment to decide how you want to react or respond. When you do become angry, walking away from a situation or distracting yourself with another activity can really change things for you, and will give you time to think about your feelings rather than reacting negatively. 

            Loneliness is an emotion even the most connected, self-confident, and popular people feel at times. We all feel it. Even in a room full of people, sometimes we feel lonely. Even when we know we have friends and family who care about us, each of us sometimes feels alone in this world. Sometimes when we feel lonely our instinct is to isolate ourselves further and wallow in our sadness, but that is truly the opposite of what we should do. When we are feeling lonely, we should reach out to others and let them know; most people will react positively and will respond. We should surround ourselves with others. People in recovery should attend support groups, contact sponsors, and visit therapists and counselors. If you find yourself feeling lonely frequently, find activites that involve other people. Volunteer. Take classes. Pursue your interests on any topic with others on Get a pet. Throw a party. Travel.  Fill your days with other humans and loneliness will dissolve. 

            Tiredness can be a real risk factor but it is generally avoidable if you plan ahead. It’s suggested that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for adequate rest. Sleeping is as important as eating and breathing so it’s vital that you make time for it. If you go to work at the same time every day, it’s easy to do simple subtraction to determine an appropriate bedtime. Stick to it. If you don’t have a regular work schedule, it’s still helpful to go to bed early and also to sleep and rise on a fairly regular schedule for maximum positive sleep results.  If you need a nap, take one. Just don’t let yourself get overtired, or HALT will rear its ugly head, and you’ll have to fight it. It’s surely easier to avoid an enemy than to battle it.

When HALT Occurs

            No matter how much planning you do, sometimes things just happen, and you find yourself in a situation where you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  If you are hungry, eat something right away! If you are angry, take deep breaths or take a long walk. If you are lonely, call a friend, visit a relative, or attend a support group – quick.  If you are tired, take a nap if you are able,; if not, power through, and vow not to let it happen again.

            In all cases, be strong.  HALT emotions certainly do not automatically lead to a slip or a relapse; people in recovery make it through these rough patches successfully all the time. Remember why you are working on your recovery. Remind yourself how difficult life used to be. Focus on the good and all the work you have done. Move forward with renewed resolve and view HALT as a learning experience. Just don’t use; not even once.  You are stronger than HALT!

At Clear Sky Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your path to recovery.  Our ibogaine treatment is innovative and effective, and our staff is standing by to answer any questions you may have about our staff, our facility, or the process.  Please give us a call today!  We can’t wait to hear from you!