Relapse is a serious concern in early recovery.  While relapse does not mean failure and can always be turned into an opportunity to learn and grow, it is still important to cultivate strategies for successfully coping with cravings.  “H.A.L.T.”, a common acronym used in the recovery community, is a great tool for when you are struggling with sobriety. The term stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired”. By remembering these four words, you can check in with yourself during a craving and improve your chances of staying sober.

The term “hunger” in this context can be physical or emotional.  When a craving arises, first ask yourself if you need something physically, such as food or water, or if you may be craving the emotional nourishment that can come from a conversation with a friend or counselor.  Feeling deprived of any healthy sustenance can leave you irritable and make your cravings for drugs or alcohol stronger.

Next, ask yourself if you are angry.  We are often unaware of our anger until we take an emotional inventory.  If you find you are angry, take productive action to work through that feeling rather than numbing it.  If your anger is directed at a particular person, try talking to them directly. You may also try writing them a letter, which you can choose at a later time to send to them, or not.

A common reason for substance abuse is loneliness, and recovery may seem very lonely at times as well. If you take the time to check in with yourself and find that you are feeling lonely, remember that addiction is a disease of isolation, and giving into your craving can only create more distance between you and others. Loneliness is a great reason to reach out to a therapist or an addiction professional.

The last word of this useful acronym is “tired”.  Drinking or using drugs as a way to escape when we have had a hard day or we are exhausted with our circumstances, is a habit that most of us in recovery established very early on in our addiction. Don’t be afraid to honor your physical and mental energy supply by resting when needed. Get a good night’s sleep as often as possible and even take naps if necessary.  The threat of relapse can feel daunting, but with the right tools and proper support, true sobriety is possible.

At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.

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