The acronym for HALT means Hungry Angry Lonely Tired, and they’re triggers, and they are triggers.
Why Are They Triggers?
HALT feelings can intensify an alcoholic or addict’s reactions to these things: ie., if you’re already angry and something goes wrong at work you can go nuclear.
When you get sober in treatment or enter a 12-step program one of the first things they tell you is never to let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. What that translates to is that people in recovery need to be extra vigilant of taking care of their basic needs in order to keep their mood as stable as possible and not let physical needs or feelings overwhelm them.
Addicts Globalize Their Feelings and Act On Them
Moods change for everyone when they are hungry. Of course they’re irritable when they feel lonely they feel sad, etc. But non-addicts and non-alcoholics will just eat if they need to, or call a friend to go to the movies. An alcoholic will let those feelings globalize and shade their entire perspective. Some may even isolate or have inappropriate reactions due to the stress those feelings cause.
Early Recovery Teaches How To Sort Feelings From Facts
Something else they teach in early recovery is to sort feelings from facts. Just because you feel awful for some reason, doesn’t necessarily mean your life is falling apart. What do we now know about alcoholics and addicts? One, they often have some difficulty dealing with feelings in a healthy way. Two, they have to pay close attention to their basic health and mental health needs.
Practice is Necessary To Understand Mood Management Means Taking Care of Basic Needs
Knowing that people in early recovery are a subset of the population that already has difficulty dealing with feelings it makes perfect sense that they shouldn’t let things that will further muddy their ability to manage feelings affect them, right? Indeed, but putting that into action is much harder than you think. It takes practice, and help from people who have learned how to do it and it takes support from the people close to them. If you have someone in early recovery in your life it will help them and it will help you to remember that HALT issues need to be watched very carefully. If you don’t believe me, get someone in early recovery really hungry, angry and tired to see what happens. No don’t. That’s not a good idea. Give them something to eat and a nap.
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