Warning Signs H.A.L.T

haltOne of the best things I’ve learning in recovery is this world “H.A.L.T.  It stands for:

Hungry

Angry

Lonely

Tired

These simple words can be a great warning sign for an alcoholic.  All of us out there who are trying to stay sober must live a life of self-care and self-awareness.  Taking care of ourselves is a daily thing.  Being self aware of our behaviors, emotions and feelings should also be  on a daily check list.

Many times a person has relapsed because we have let our self get too hungry, too angry, too lonely and too tired.  Being aware of H.A.L.T. can help warn us something is happening before we reach that breaking point.

Hunger 

We should make sure our hunger for food doesn’t get misplaced into anger anddonebestupods irritability.  I for one can relate to how people act when they are hungry.  I work as a waitress and it’s funny how irritable and short tempered my customers can be when they first sit down at the table and yet once I’ve gotten food in their stomachs they are sweet as pie towards me.  I also relate to the feeling of hunger because in the past I found that if I was hungry the craving to drink was intensified and my resistance and strength were low which of course is a dangerous position for a recovering alcoholic to be in.

Hunger can also be an emotional need we to be aware of.  Hunger can also manifest into being hungry for love, attention and understanding.  Hunger can accompany bad moods, unclear thinking, low energy and a decreased ability to cope.  In those moments when we may be feeling drained, overwhelmed or irritable, we should ask ourselves, “When was the last time I ate?

Anger

angryjpg

” tred lightly…. I’m a little po’d “

We all get angry and although this can be a healthy emotion, most of us manage anger in a destructive way, an aggressive way and act impulsively resulting in a negative consequence.  The first thing to do is acknowledge we are feeling angry and why we are angry.   The next step is diffuse this anger in a constructive way.  Some examples are taking a long walk, getting away from the situation to cool yourself down.  Try cleaning house or punching a pillow.  Make yourself sit down and say a prayer while taking deep breaths.  Another good release from anger is simply venting to another person.  Make sure it’s someone you trust and has the ability to calm you down.  However you choose to release your anger the first step is to recognize it when it starts.

Anger was a trigger for me when it came to relapsing.  I noticed that if I got upset with my parents or my boss, my first thought was to use.  This is an emotion I have to be in constant awareness and in control of.  Many times, my response was inflated because I hadn’t eaten all day.

Lonely

Prior to treatment, loneliness was a big trigger for me.  I have drank many a times becomes I was just simply “lonely”.  Many alcoholics mask these feelings of loneliness by abusing alcohol or drugs.  Once we start in recovery we are taught that loneliness can be very seductive.  When we feel alone we can also become depressed, overwhelmed and anxious.  Drinking when we are lonely doesn’t solve anything.  It can actually intensify the feeling oflonely dog loneliness and intensify our depression and anxiety.

The solution to loneliness is to turn to support systems and connect to others.  There are soooo many AA and NA meetings that can help us in our loneliness.  Staying plugged into a program of socializing with others that deal with the same problem is imperative to our recovery.  Stay close and tell your feelings to a family member or spouse is helpful too.

Tiredness

Tiredness takes a toll on our minds, bodies and spirit.  Tiredness can be a product of difficult circumstances and depressions.     Getting a satisfying nights sleep can be rejuvenating and get us back to feeling normal.  I for one suffer from insomnia.  It can be difficult to function sleepyday by day when I’m not getting enough of a rejuvenation sleep.  When we are running on empty our thought processes and ability to cope are severely comprised.  I become more sensitive.  Little things will bother me and my feelings get hurt easily.  This can make our daily lives very difficult.  I know this personally.  Sometimes we just need to take a day off work and sleep.  We need to be aware when we overly tied and its best to relax, put our feet up and just take care of ourselves and sleep as much as we need to so we can get back to normal and handle our responsibilities once we get the rest we need to do out best.

H.A.L.T. can serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to take care of our basic needs every day. For an addict, that is even more important because neglecting your wellbeing can lead to relapse. So, take a moment each day to stop and check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

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The Temptation To Catch A Buzz

resist

Belief in an instant cure for addiction will put our recovery at risk;  on the other hand, belief that we will someday be beyond the reach of temptation is also dangerous.

Unfortunately, temptation is a permanent part of our sinful world and of human experience.  The Bible says, ”The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.”  No only is temptation all around us; it is within us as well.”

Temptation comes from the lure of our desires.

day after

How you feel tomorrow…

using today

Giving into temptation today…

We are usually tempted the most when we are hungry, angry or tired.

If we put away the false belief that temptation will magically disappear when we return to God, we will be more aware and able to avoid giving in to temptations’ power.  We need to prayerfully seek God’s help in dealing with the reality of life.

God will keep the temptation from being so strong that you can’t stand up against it.  When you are tempted He will ALWAYS show you a way out so that you will not give up .

Emotional Triggers

A “trigger” is something that can trigger you into having a drink or a drug.  It can be a person, place or thing that gives us an overwhelming desire to drink.  It can bolster a craving or give us unrelenting thoughts to pick and use.  Triggers can lead to a quick relapse without much thinking involved or a trigger can bolster a thought that just won’t shut up and over a short period of time leads us to drink.

I would say the hardest part of sobriety for me is dealing with emotions.  No one likes to be upset but an alcoholic deals with emotions differently than other people.  My instinct is to avoid negative and uncomfortable feelings.  My first instinct to escape and get rid of these feelings.  I’m dealing with something now in my life that has been causing my emotions to range from anger to fear to depression.glass-broken-glass-crack-red-water-Favim.com-559680  A relapse 10 months ago led to my first DUI.   Even after 10 months of sobriety, I get the urge to drink.  It’s not that I really want to drink.  I don’t want to!  What I want is to stop feeling this way.

For the past couple weeks my emotions have been up and down, up and down.  Every day.  I’ve been thinking waaaay too much about my life, but I’ve been in a horrible financial situation where it’s all I can think about.  I try to give my mind a rest but it ultimately goes back to my current situation.  Even  my prayers seem muddled and distracted with thoughts of fear and discomfort.  I ask God for help and then I feel a wave of fear and dread come over me.  It’s awful and I’ve been holding on tight and proud to say I have not picked up a drink.  My disease is telling me to though.  My disease is telling me it will be okay and I will be comforted by a few drinks.  “Just get some relief for a little while”, it tells me.  “You deserve it.  Stop worrying and give yourself some comfort”, it tells me.

First of all, these are all lies!!  This I know.  This I have experienced over and over again.  I have given into these lies so many times there is no calculator to hold the number.  What I have learned through the years is that after I have drank alcohol or have taken a drug, in the days to come, my depression and anxiety gets worse.  And I mean way worse!  The thought of me feeling worse outweighs the thought of getting a few hours of comfort from alcohol.  I don’t want to feel worse so that is why I don’t pick up right now.  I’ve had to go back to the basics these past couple weeks and live one day at a time.  Meaning, I tell myself, “just for today I will not drink.  Just get through the end of the day without drinking.”  By keeping my thoughts one day at a time, it makes it easier for me to handle the stress.  This is a fundamental truth taught in AA.  This is a concept that I urge everyone to grasp.  It’s not easy but when you wake up the next day and reflect on your previous day, it does give you a subtle comfort in knowing you conquered your demons one more day and didn’t pick up that drink no matter how awful you felt.  It is a victory by far!!

So today I make a decision to not drink or escape.  I am going to give my mind a rest.  I have to for sanity’s sake.  I have a heavy feeling over me, but I’m not going to let it lead me to relapse today.