Those in addiction recovery learn that taking care of your basic needs will aid in relapse prevention. There is even a catchy acronym for it. H.A.L.T. – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Paying attention to these simple needs is a great start in recovery.
Does it end with these needs? No, but just the fact that we are able to identify these basic needs is a step in the right direction. Just think about the days when you were actively using drugs or alcohol, you didn’t try and meet any of these basic needs. I know I didn’t. What you probably tried to do was avoid any of these needs with drugs or alcohol.
When I was using Oxycontin I completely ignored the fact that it is normal to eat meals throughout the day. What I would do is stock up on Balance Bars. I would eat 3 bars per day and to me, this was perfectly normal. I was too “busy” to eat an actual meal. I had all those daily chores to complete. You know, getting out of bed, worrying about getting high, then laying around feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t possibly have fit nutrition into the mix.
Let’s just say I don’t have that problem anymore. I actually like cooking meals for my family and sitting down and eating with them. It is something that I completely forgot I enjoyed doing. I just assumed I hated it. After all, it does take energy to plan and cook meals. Why in the world would I like something where I actually exerted a little energy? Because it makes me feel better about myself.
Just like many people who take mood altering substances I did not get angry when I was actively using. If I felt the slightest twinge of anger coming on I would immediately get nervous and would take some drug to “calm me down”. I was always known for my laid back attitude and my ability to deal with a lot of shit from people without blowing up. Perfect right?
Not so much. It is normal to feel angry when something pisses you off. The thing that I have to remember is just because I’m feeling angry, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a feeling. I don’t have to do anything about it if I don’t want to. I can just feel angry. Identifying when your angry and what the cause of it is will keep you from trying to numb that feeling out of fear.
Everyone knows what it is like to feel lonely at some point in their life. I think most of my Oxycontin use was to numb feelings of just that – loneliness. Instead of actually trying to do something about the reason I was feeling this way, I just figured I would cover up the feeling. Wow, what a great idea that was. I got absolutely nothing from it except a few hours in oblivion and a severe drug habit.
I have come to learn that there is a big difference between being lonely and being alone. There are times that I get lonely. The fact that I have had to cut out some relationships that may jeopardize my sobriety has often left me with feelings of loneliness. Times like these can be turned around by making a connection with someone. This can easily be done at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. It’s strange how just going and seeing others that are in the same situation as yourself can make you remember that you aren’t alone.
My night time routine before sleeping has changed dramatically from my days of Oxycontin abuse. For some reason when I was using and I would get tired, I felt that I needed something extra to just knock me out. It’s a really weird thing, I would be tired enough to sleep but felt that I needed something to make me even sleepier. I know that most people would feel tired and then probably use a stimulant to keep themselves up. I was the opposite. I didn’t like the feeling of laying down to sleep with my thoughts and worries.
Life skills play an important part of me conquering this trigger. I get a normal night sleep now so that I don’t get tired during the day like I used to. I have set up a night time routine for myself that my body has grown accustom to. I no longer fear what I will think about as I lay down to sleep. The reason for that is I read until I’m just about falling asleep. Once I shut the light off I spend some time trying to connect with my higher power. This gets me away from worrying about things that I have no control over and certainly cannot do anything about while I’m laying in bed.
All of the above is my personal version of H.A.L.T. I know everyones version will differ slightly but it all boils down to taking care of your basic needs.