How to Avoid a Relapse in Recovery-HALT!

Sobriety is a way of life, and staying sober, happy and content is going to require diligence and effort. But let’s face it, before we got sober we would usually put a lot of effort into obtaining our drug of choice. If we are able to attend rehab for a minimum of 90 days or more,  we will have established an excellent foundation for a sober lifestyle. Completing inpatient treatment is just the beginning to getting and staying sober.

Sobriety is a Lifestyle

Sobriety is so much more than abstaining from drugs or alcohol. A sober life requires a change in former attitudes and perceptions. We may have discovered while in treatment what some of the underlying issues were that triggered our addiction. Now that we are sober we will want to avoid those triggers. These can include people places and things. Good recovery wisdom includes not allowing ourselves to become too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. The acronym for these feelings is HALT. When we find that we are becoming restless, angry or discontent we can immediately apply halt and reassess the situation.

Asking ourselves the following questions when troubled will help us to become vigilant against a relapse, and works to secure our sobriety. Our sobriety needs to become the single most important thing in our life thus assuring the stability of everything else we love and value.

What Is HALT?

When troubled or anxious during the day we can HALT and ask ourselves, am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If hungry, when was the last time I ate, have I been going all day on 4 cups of coffee? Now would be a good time to take a break and get something healthy to eat. Studies show that 98% of alcoholics are hypoglycemic.  Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when our blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Letting ourselves become hungry will make us crave our drug of choice, especially for alcoholics. Alcohol is the quickest way to get sugar into the blood stream to satisfy this craving, so it is imperative the we develop good eating habits.

Or perhaps I am angry.The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that anger is the dubious luxury of normal people, but for the alcoholic it is poison. Resentments of any kind are the number one offender and reason for relapse. If angry, I ask myself what or who I am angry at. Do I need to call someone and make amends, and if so I stop everything I am doing to call the person who has seemingly hurt me. We addicts and alcoholics are sensitive people, and we need to learn not to be easily offended. Getting out of our selfish preoccupation and focusing our attention on someone else will ensure us against relapse as nothing else can.

If I am not hungry or angry am I lonely? Years spent in isolation due to addiction is common among recovering alcoholics and addicts. Coming out of isolation and building a sober network of friends brings joy to our lives that here to for was lacking. In most cities there are over 100 – 12 step meetings happening throughout the week. Calling our sponsor and/or going to meeting are two specific action steps we can take to put loneliness at bay. We can even call a friend in recovery to see how they are doing. There are many ways we can escape loneliness today.

And lastly, if I am not hungry, angry, lonely…maybe I am just tired. Getting enough rest is essential to feeling and functioning at our best in recovery. In other parts of the world such as Mexico people take a siesta daily – (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsjesta]). A sjesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in other countries, particularly those where the weather is warm.

Although a sjesta is not common in America, taking a 20 minute rest period where you can close your eyes and relax is usually doable and will do wonders. Assessing your daily schedule and determining if you are overworking yourself is a good idea too. Sometimes when we are new in sobriety we can become overzealous and frantic to make up for time lost to our former addiction. If we are not careful we can easily become burned out. Becoming burned out can precipitate a relapse,  so we definitely want to make sure that we are not taking on more than we can handle. Discussing this with our sponsor will help us make wise decisions concerning our time management.

How It Works

So, HALT has been around for a long time and it works. Now whenever you become frustrated, anxious or just feel out of sorts —  apply the HALT technique and you will quickly become more aware of why you are feeling the way you are and then you can take the appropriate action steps to feel better, avoid a slip and work your recovery program. Remember too, recovery is one day at a time!

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