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H.A.L.T: Are You Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?

In early recovery, people are just learning to feel their feelings without the use of substances. It may be hard to recognize your emotions if you’ve been numbing yourself for years. This is why, in early treatment, you’ll learn to unpeel the layers of your feelings and beliefs so that you can begin to cope in healthier ways. H.A.L.T. (also known as Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired) is an acronym that helps you recognize that you’re falling into a relapse pattern.

Why Is H.A.L.T. Important?

All humans need certain things to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Both our physical needs and emotional needs can take a toll on the mind and body if we neglect them. People new to recovery may not be used to taking care of themselves. That’s why it’s important to recognize H.A.L.T. when you’re feeling down, irritable, or simply stressed. So why exactly are these needs so important? Let’s take a look at them:

  • Hungry: Of course, a basic need for all humans is food. But some people may find that when they’re feeling upset or stressed, they need to eat. People with mental health disorders, such as depression, may eat less than is healthy when they don't eat well. Choosing to take care of yourself and eat three meals as well as snacks can help keep your mood even and your mind sharp. The healthier the food, the better.
  • Angry: Some people walk around angry after something has upset them. This is normal to a certain extent, but if you’re becoming angrier as time passes, it’s time to let it go. Obsessing on anger, whether it’s a loved one you’ve been arguing with or a guy who cut you off in traffic, is unhealthy. Write it down, go for a run, or go to a meeting. Letting anger go, instead of festering, is the healthiest behavior for recovery. You’ll feel better, too.
  • Lonely: People get lonely, especially in early recovery, when they have to stop hanging out with their drinking and drugging friends. When you enter recovery, you’ll have a whole new world of friends if you choose to let them in. When you’re lonely, go to a meeting. Talk about your feelings. Get phone numbers. Don’t isolate - that only leads to more loneliness.
  • Tired: Everyone experiences burnout in life, especially if your body is recovering from months or years of substance abuse. Fatigue means that you need to let your body rest and heal. If you’re also going through difficult emotions, your mind needs time to rest and repair for about 8 hours every night. Being tired can be a trigger for relapse. You may think you’re “tired of recovery” or “tired of working on yourself” when you’re really tired of not getting enough sleep.

Working Through H.A.L.T.

If you’re experiencing any aspect of H.A.L.T., you need to stop what you’re doing and either get to a 12-step meeting or take care of the problem. It’s easy to address hunger or fatigue by taking care of your body. But if you’re angry or lonely, the best solution is to get to a support meeting and ask for help from your peers.

Getting and Staying Sober

Staying sober long-term requires patience and willingness to try new solutions to old problems. Detoxing is the first step to sobriety, and it should be handled with compassion and science. Las Olas offers a holistic and individualized approach to recovery, giving your body, mind, and spirit the support you need to begin and continue your journey. Call us at US (949) 279-1376 • MX (612) 153-5726 to learn more.



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.