What is HALT?

A vital tool for those in recovery that can help prevent relapse.  

Patients in treatment will learn many methods of withstanding cravings and triggers as they progress on their road to recovery. A very well-known grounding technique among those working to take their control back from addiction is called “HALT.” The acronym stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.  

The abbreviation also happens to spell out the word “halt,” which means to stop abruptly. It describes four feelings or moods that can compromise sobriety. Learning how to utilize this practice can be an essential tool against relapse. 

What does HALT Stand For?  

Hunger: When a person is hungry, it can significantly impact their mood and state of mind. Hunger levels can also have an immense impact on blood sugar and cognitive health. Ignoring signs of hunger can lead to poor decision-making and potential relapse.  

For many people in recovery, eating regular, healthful meals was not the norm. That’s why those in treatment and recovery need to recognize the body’s signs of thirst and hunger. Working towards a routine to supply themselves with healthy options to nurture healing should be a focus. 

Anger: Rage and resentment can be uncomfortable feelings that are not uncommon while undergoing substance use disorder treatment and recovery. Whether it’s something small or a deeper issue, anger-triggering situations can be challenging to process and deal with healthfully. Taking a moment to realize that these feelings are temporary and working through them can build resistance toward future incidents. 

Those in recovery who struggle with anger issues would highly benefit from counseling. Substance use counselors are trained to help with various aspects that people go through as they rebuild their lives after addiction. Group and individual counseling sessions are a great avenue to learn anger management skills and related topics.  

Loneliness: Feelings of alienation or being removed from society can take a toll on individuals in treatment. Building a support system is absolutely crucial for long-lasting recovery. Making new friends can seem complicated at first. However, developing a group of trusted individuals can be a lifesaving process that will bring joy in the future. 

The recovery community is an invaluable resource for making new friends. Meeting like-minded peers with similar experiences and future goals is practically a perfect setup. There are many activity groups and volunteer opportunities that put people together with a common interest. Joining online groups and forums, as well as phone apps, has made it easier than ever.  

Tired: Fatigue is a common issue that many people in treatment and recovery deal with everyday. A lack of proper sleep can alter the body’s hormones and other chemicals. That can induce cravings and other adverse side effects. Sleeping and napping are part of self-care, and substance use counselors recommend them. 

Learning about proper sleep hygiene can make all the difference. Sometimes, even the most benign things in an environment can impact sleep quality. Things like room temperature, lighting, audio distractions and electronic devices can impede good sleep. Sometimes, all it takes is a really quality set of pillows and bedsheets!  

HALT in Addiction Recovery 

woman dealing with withdrawal symptoms from opioids but thinking about how to use the HALT technique.

Preventing relapse is a significant part of treatment and recovery for everyone who deals with substance use disorder. However, relapse is more of a process rather than a single incident. There are usually many feelings and events that lead up to it that can be manageable with the proper tools. 

Recognizing the body’s natural signs of basic needs may be difficult for someone preoccupied with recovery. The HALT method is a simple yet effective technique that anyone can use in treatment or recovery who finds themselves in emotional distress. This grounding technique can help when it feels like the world is caving in and there’s nowhere to turn for help.  

Taking precautions against relapse is always the first and best measure to take. The HALT method can stop someone from reacting to everyday bodily needs in a way that will not compromise their sobriety. 

Recognize when You Need to HALT! 

When someone has used substances to numb themselves for a while, it can be difficult to process emotions when sober. The brain, in this sense, is like a muscle that needs conditioning on how to think clearly again. HALT can help with relearning how to handle difficult emotions while also keeping relapse far away.  

When negative feelings strike, it’s helpful to think about the four components of HALT. It can help narrow down which basic need is lacking and turn focus to a resolution. Upon identifying the need, the matter is resolvable with simple solutions.  

Some instances of HALT moments include: 

Hunger: When energy is low, and everything feels blurry, it may be from low blood sugar. Although cravings for substance misuse may occur, there’s a better solution. Ordering a healthy bite to eat may feel indulgent. However, when emotions are running high, a delicious, nourishing meal that takes no time and effort to make can be lifesaving. 

Anger: Sometimes discontent arises at the most random times. It can be challenging to set aside conflict in the moment. Still, engaging in physical activity like jogging or bike riding can help expel that energy until the conflict is approachable.  

Loneliness: Feelings of rejection and social alienation are hard to cope with in recovery. Addiction can feel like a scarlet letter despite all efforts in treatment. Engaging in support groups where you can share your experiences and feelings with others who understand your situation can be very comforting and affirming. These groups provide a safe space to express yourself and connect with others facing similar challenges.

Tiredness: Insomnia can be unbearable. Staying up for several days at a time is a call to action. Sometimes, it occurs due to side effects from medication, and other times, it’s not clear why it happens. Speaking with a medical provider about sleep solutions is vital in this case. Not sleeping can lead to many health conditions.  

With unlimited access to our staff at Middlesex Recovery, patients will have the support they need whenever they need it. To learn more about our recovery programs that allow you to live life to the fullest, reach out to us today