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HALT: Focus on These Four Triggers in Your Recovery

The HALT method is a four-part system that helps you check in with your emotional state and spot triggers that may lead to poor decisions. It was originally developed by addiction counselors as a way for people in recovery from substance use disorder to recognize their own personal triggers for relapse. But it works for anyone trying to stay on track with their goals: if you're going through any kind of major life change, or just trying to avoid unhealthy behaviors, this is a useful tool.


HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.

HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These four triggers can have a large impact on your decision-making process. If you're experiencing them at work or at home, you may be more likely to make poor choices that affect your personal health and well-being. For example:

  • Hunger may lead you to overeat or choose unhealthy foods when making meals.

  • Anger might cause you to lash out in ways that are hurtful but not necessarily malicious (such as yelling at someone).

  • Loneliness might cause you to reach out for unhealthy relationships where people are only after something from you (like money).

  • Tiredness could lead to falling asleep during work hours or driving while drowsy after a long day of work or school activities with little rest beforehand


These four emotional states are common triggers that lead people to make poor decisions.

As you move toward recovery from a substance use disorder, you may find yourself struggling to resist the temptation that comes with triggers. Triggers are common emotional states that can make you want to drink or use again. You can remember them by using the acronym HALT:

  • Hunger

  • Anger

  • Loneliness

  • Tiredness


For people in recovery from substance use disorder, the HALT method helps recognize emotional triggers that may increase risk of relapse.

The HALT method is useful for people in recovery from substance use disorder to help them recognize emotional triggers that may increase risk of relapse. The method consists of the following four steps:

  • H – Hunger and thirst

  • A – Anger and anxiety (stress)

  • L – Lonely, isolated, or depressed feelings

  • T – Tiredness/boredom


You can build a plan for these four key stressors.

You can build a plan for these four key stressors.

  • What is your plan for each of the four triggers? In what ways will you manage these triggers to avoid making poor decisions?

  • How will you tell if you are feeling one of these triggers? Do they cause specific feelings, or are they more subtle than that (for example, a feeling of emptiness)

  • What will you do if you recognize one of these triggers? What actions might prevent bad choices or thoughts from happening in the future


The HALT method provides a fast way to check in with yourself to see if you're vulnerable.

HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. These are common emotional triggers that lead to poor decisions. In fact, people in recovery from substance use disorder can use HALT as a simple self-assessment tool to determine whether they're vulnerable to relapse.


If you find yourself experiencing any of these feelings or emotions more often than you'd like, it might be a sign that your recovery needs some attention.


Conclusion

When you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it can be difficult to resist the urge to use substances. But if you stop and check in with yourself, it will be easier to recognize your triggers and avoid making a bad decision. The HALT method encourages people in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) to build a plan for these four key stressors—helping them stay on track so they can reach their goals of health and wellness!


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