It should go without saying that a person in sobriety should not get Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT), but that is where we find ourselves quite often. One (or all) of these can lead to a loss of serenity, or worse… a relapse into our addiction.
As an alcoholic, self-awareness was never one of my strong points. “Healthy” attitudes about moderation, isolation, anger management, and social interaction found little space in the midst of the chaos and panic that was my life. Focused on the outside world, I found little time to monitor and maintain my internal well being. Many days, just getting by was a major accomplishment!
Getting sober (and staying sober), I was worked on more than keeping my life as it was – minus the alcohol or drugs. Recovery brought a better way of living to all aspects of my life: mind, body, and soul.
As I progress along the path of recovery, looking inward was the key to a happy and healthy sober life. Keeping a watch on my internal physical, mental, and emotional self, the chaos began to settle. This newfound pattern for living was often a bit difficult to maintain. Going forward, recognizing the behaviors early is the best thing I can do to keep building towards a better life!
HALT! Who Goes There?
At some point, everyone will find themselves Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. It is a basic truth of being a human! Sober living is about how we respond to those challenges and make our lives better!
Living life on life’s terms means that we can clearly see what is going on in our world and take steps to correct what we can. HALT is all about changing parts of our lives that we can control.
“Hunger” can come in many forms beyond simply a lack of food. As sober addicts and alcoholics, we often find ourselves hungering for acceptance and understanding. There is a need that we find unfulfilled in our lives.
Improving this situation can be as simple as building a plan to eat regularly. At times – especially early in sobriety – eating may stretch our budgets beyond the breaking point. Making your recovery a priority means doing what it takes to find resources available (including public assistance) to you in your community. AA / NA meetings are a great place to find information about food banks and other options open to you.
Beyond the physical lack of food, defining a hunger for something missing in your life may be a bit more difficult to track down. When you feel that ‘hole’ inside you that needs to be filled, making a plan to fill it begins the process of healing.
Journaling is a great way to help find those parts of your life that need sustainment. I found that by outlining my feelings in an open and honest way, the things that are missing come into focus.
This is where a sponsor can help guide you to build a path to fill the void. Working through the 4th and 5th steps, you and your sponsor can target the ‘hunger’ and how it affects your serenity, sobriety, and ultimately your life.
Anger is most likely the most common reason people relapse. Personally, I have had issues with it that spanned my drinking, early sobriety, and into the present.
Just because I have almost 30 years of sobriety does not mean that I ever stop looking for HALT indicators in my daily life! As has been said countless times between recovering alcoholics: “Progress, not perfection.”
Writing out a daily inventory is a great way for me to discover the root of my resentments and the anger associated with them. The 4th and 5th step are a never-ending cycle of exploration and understanding the internal and external environment I live in. Often, I find that my anger stems from things that are not always apparent. Anger clouds my ability to see things clearly and react accordingly. I found myself in an unchecked anger spiral that I barely recognize and don’t know how to stop!
At times in our lives, we are going to get upset. It is a natural state of being human. We will find inequalities in work, home, or other relationships that we may not even see ourselves. Working with an unbiased and trusted partner like a sponsor, we start to ask the questions that pinpoint the problem and allow us to find a way to work through it constructively.
Drinking “at” a person or problem does nothing to help our situation and rarely has even the slightest impact on the situation. Through a solid, honest use of the 4th column on the 4th step (the “what’s my part” area), we can start to build a plan. The steps work if you work them.
I can be lonely in a crowd. During the pandemic, this problem has gotten much worse as I am forced to find a way to integrate with society on some level.
At times, I need to be alone and introspective. That justification is perfect when I want to stay in my own head for too long. Left unchecked, my mind will start to spiral into self-doubt, panic and worse. Inside my head becomes a fertile breeding ground to reinforce problems that may actually be minor!
In order to heal the loneliness, I need to get out of myself. The pandemic brought a rise in the use of online connections with other alcoholics and addicts. At almost all times of the day, you can pop into a virtual meeting and begin to share yourself with others. In the past, I had to justify putting on pants! Now, I have no excuse not to break my isolation and share in the fellowship!
When I think back to the times I was most tired, they were only partially due to a lack of sleep. In most cases, I could have substituted the word, “weary” to be more appropriate.
Being tired happens on many levels. It is quite common to think of this in terms of sleep or rest required in early sobriety. My drinking days were a never-ending series of crisis or tragedy that never seemed to end. The chaos of my alcoholic mind only worsened minor problems.
There is a simple solution to help with basic fatigue: sleep! In early sobriety, I found that I needed a LOT of sleep to build energy for my sober life. This may sound a bit counterintuitive, but years of chaos had taken their toll on both my mind and body. Take it easy. Rest a lot. Trust me, it works!
In early sobriety, your focus should be on healing. It may not be the best time to take on a new job or start a new relationship. There are only so many things a person can juggle, no matter how good you THINK you are!
First things first. Rest. Focus.
HALT Every Day
Self care is important. Take a moment every day to do an inventory to see where you are on the different areas:
Today Was I Hungry For Anything?
Today Was I Angry About Anything?
- Boss Doesn’t Respect Me
- Spouse Doesn’t Appreciate Me
- Friends Ignored Me
Today Was I Lonely?
- Did I Isolate
- Do I Feel Alone
Today Was I Tired?
- Did I Sleep Well
- Do I Feel Overwhelmed
- Do I Feel Too Overloaded
Taking the time to answer these questions – or a list you make up for yourself – will help focus you on your own recovery.
I would love to know how each of you do your own self-inventory every day. Please let me know in the comments!