Tuesday, September 4, 2007

H.A.L.T.



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.

7 comments:

Kikipotamus the Hobo said...

Hey, if cheesy acronyms work, use 'em! Thank you for stopping by my blog. :)

claud said...

This is one of the subtlest things that can happen to me -- when I get going so...ah...relentlessly, I guess, that I don't even recognize the need to stop. Very tricky!

Now I'm going to have to go find out who this 'potomus guy is!

Carla said...

HALT has saved my bacon numerous times. Do I want to kill myself or do I just need a sandwich? Hope you get some good Angela rest!

Angela said...

Yeah, peanut butter and jelly always makes me feel so much better!

Sherri said...

Hope you're better now.

Deborah said...

In the very strange movie Death to Smoochy Ed Norton's wacky character uses this concept. I totally believe in it and remember it when I can, but its inextricably linked to the movie and so I chuckle when I think of it. Which, now that I think of it, isn't such a bad thing after all!

PB on whole wheat can cure insomnia... :-)

The Dream said...

H.A.L.T. helps me to NOT be a complete and total maniac! When I have two or more going, I can be such a freak. My other fave I learned early on, which I thought was pure genius: "You can start your day over any time."