When individuals venture out to sobriety, the early stages can be the most difficult. Many of us are used to our habitual behaviors of using and when the drug or alcohol is taken away, we don’t know how to cope or what to do with ourselves. It can be a very confusing time. Fortunately, there are some guidelines to follow to resist the temptation of going back to drugs and alcohol. One of those guidelines is called H.A.L.T.S. This is a reminder to slow down and stop. When you feel the urge to use, it is important to tone into why. This requires you to stop and focus on what your emotional and physical self is asking. The acronym, H.A.L.T.S. stands for the basic internal triggers that sometimes result in relapse.
Hungry– This may seem basic, but a lot of the time we may think we want drugs or alcohol, but really our body is craving nutrition. It is important to see what your body is asking. Remember the last time you were really hungry and ask yourself if you may good decisions, chances are you did not. It is important to stop and eat when feeling hungry in order to potentially avoid a relapse.
Angry– Anger is a basic instinct that one feels when threatened. Some of us chose to fight, while others chose to run away or escape. For those of us that run away or escape, we tend to do that with drugs/alcohol. It is the perfect justification to get away from an uncomfortable situation. It is important to stop and use coping skills such as exercise, deep breaths, or taking a time out in order to calm down before a relapse occurs.
Lonely– Feeling lonely can be one of the most difficult feelings in the world and a prime time for relapse. When we are feeling lonely, our mind fills with self-doubt and negative thoughts. When those thoughts come in, it’s easy to go back to drugs or alcohol. When feeling lonely you may want to talk to someone who is important to you or reach out to friends or family that help you feel connected.
Tired– When we our tired, we are not running at full capacity. We do not have the energy to remain sober or think clearly. We tend to make impulsive decisions when feeling tired. It is very important to get sleep, even if it is just 15 minutes of resting.
Stressed– Feeling stressed is a main trigger for relapse. It may be difficult to learn new ways to deal with feeling stressed because you might be used to coping with it one way-using drugs or alcohol. Find ways to de-stress which may include taking walks, finding a hobby, meditation, take a long bath, or watch a movie. Do whatever it takes to remove yourself from the stressing situation, even for a short period of time.
Following H.A.L.T.S. is an easy way to check in with yourself and see what your emotional self and your body is asking for. It is very important to stop or “halt” to check in and discover what you need. Chances are your desire to use drugs or alcohol will decrease after these basic needs have been satisfied.