Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Okay. I way overdid it yesterday. And as much as I hate pithy little sayings and acronyms, I’m realizing that for purely pragmatic reasons, they actually come in handy. For instance, H.A.L.T. – an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired – as in don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I think this is good advice for anyone to follow, but for alcoholics and addicts it can be a lifesaver. Hunger, anger, loneliness and fatigue are just a few of the things we in recovery call “triggers.” They’re called triggers because they can trigger us to think that taking a drink or a drug would somehow improve whatever uncomfortable situation we find ourselves in. Of course, taking a drink or a drug would dramatically make our situation about a million times worse! But here’s the catch: it doesn’t seem that way. And that’s how you know you’ve entered the twilight zone of recovery. In the twilight zone, nothing makes sense. Life begins to feel like a giant carnival funhouse and everyone starts to look like they’re reflected in one of those crazy distortion mirrors. Sometimes a trigger can take us totally by surprise, like when we suddenly get a whiff of beer or pot we weren’t expecting, or when we realize we can actually taste the vodka they’re pouring into the glass on television . Other times, it’s a slow build-up. We don’t sleep for a few nights, we find we’re not getting along with friends or co-workers, we face a setback through rejection, job failure or illness – and before we realize it, man, that drink sounds good.
I wish I had remembered H.A.L.T. before I woke up and realized I had worked myself way too hard yesterday, I’d missed my AA meeting, and I hadn’t slept worth a damn. Better late than never, though. I’ve got the message and it’s loud and clear: Slow down and take care of yourself before you find yourself with a drink in your hand.