Many of us experience one or more of these symptoms – hungry, angry, lonely, tired. They can easily contribute to us feeling low or stressed out.
Everyone, including non-addicts, need to be very conscious of the phenomenon of HALT. For me, being aware of them is part of my recovery. To stay clean and sober, I must be vigilant about checking myself daily to make sure I don’t feel any of these symptoms.
Personally, the most dangerous of these is “hungry”. I have learned the hard way that I can easily confuse hunger with cravings for a drink. If I am feeling low or out of sorts, I have to make sure I eat something before I make a rash decision that could easily lead to a relapse. It’s happened to me before, so it is first-hand experience. After a lengthy period of sobriety, I stopped doing the things I needed to do to stay sober, and most importantly I wasn’t eating properly. Being physically hungry led me not to the grocery store but to the liquor store, and I was doomed.
Now, I make sure I have a menu plan and that it includes lots of healthy choices. I don’t want ever to be fooled by the feelings of hunger again.
I am also aware of the other triggers – when I feel angry about something, I know I have to diffuse it in my own head – I take a walk, exercise or do something creative that will take my mind off whatever has made me angry. Loneliness can also be a sign that I am going down the wrong track and headed for depression or worse. I don’t mind being alone, but if it turns to feeling lonely, I make sure I call someone, just to talk, taking away the pangs of loneliness. Being tired can be a trigger for some people – it brings our defences down and can make us vulnerable to relapse. I try to make sure I get sleep when I need it and don’t overwhelm myself with activities.
The important thing for me to remember is that I have to take some sort of action when these feelings come over me, and fix what is either lacking or taking up emotional space. This gives me the strength to keep a potential relapse out of the picture.