Putting a HALT to Relapse by Managing Common Triggers

Written by Andres Bryant. Posted in Health

  For anyone entering into drug rehabs in South Africa, the very last thing they want to think about is the prospect of relapse. While it’s something every recovering addict is fundamentally aware of, it nonetheless tends to be a topic of some taboo. Like many things, it’s assumed that if you do not think about it and pretend it doesn’t happen, chances are it won’t happen to you. In reality, burying your head in the sand and pretending that relapse isn’t an on-going threat is the perfect recipe for making it happen. On the plus side, taking a positive and proactive approach to the prevention of relapse can certainly reduce its likelihood. While each and every case of addiction may be entirely unique, there are certain common relapse triggers that pose a severe risk to all recovering addicts. Once again, I simply ignoring these triggers or pretending they don’t exist, you immediately increase the likelihood of being affected by them. By contrast, if you acknowledge their existence and work proactively to manage or avoid them, you stand a much lower chance of succumbing to them. In the world of addiction recovery and treatment, there is a common acronym used to outline the four most dangerous triggers of all – HALT. Explained in a little more detail below, these are the basic yet extremely dangerous triggers that have the potential to vastly increase the likelihood of relapse in just about any recovering addict across the board:

1 – Hunger

Believe it or not, one of the most powerful relapse triggers of all is nothing more than simple hunger. Which can be particularly problematic during the process of addiction recovery, given the way in which you may find at many times that food really is the last thing on your mind. When you do not provide your body with the nutrients it needs to operate at maximum capacity, it cannot and will not perform its core functions as it should. Hunger not only leads to a wide variety of unpleasant physical symptoms, but can also lead to poor decision-making. Hunger can make just about anyone feel depressed, tired, demotivated and defeated. So while it may sometimes be difficult to maintain control over dietary choices during the recovery process, it is nonetheless are extremely important to do so.

2 – Anger

Not only is anger an inevitable part of the recovery process, but it is also healthy. The simple fact of the matter is that every recovering addict will have a certain amount of anger within them, which needs to be brought to the surface in a manner which is controlled, proactive and productive. Everybody knows that allowing anger to simply bubble away beneath the surface is a surefire way of inviting more severe problems further down the line.  However, when anger is so extreme all prolonged that it becomes debilitating, it can be an extremely powerful relapse trigger. The angrier you are – whether with yourself or anyone else – the more likely you are to make bad decisions. Which is why many addiction treatment programs include an element of anger management as standard.

3 – Loneliness

Another dangerously powerful relapse trigger is loneliness. The reason being that when you are lonely, it is difficult not to fall into something of a spiral of self-pity and depression. Not only this, but loneliness also tends to go hand-in-hand with boredom – another extremely powerful relapse trigger. When you are lonely, bored or generally feeling sorry for yourself, you are naturally more likely to relapse, simply as a means by which to break the boredom, pass the time and temporarily feel better. Not only this, but the more time you spend alone, the more opportunities you will have to ‘get away with’ breaking from your course of treatment, given that nobody will be around to see it happen.  One of the most important guidelines for most recovering addicts is that of surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family members at all times.

4 – Tiredness

Last but not least, tiredness is very similar to hunger in that it has a direct and severe effect on just about everything your body does. From overall health to motivation to psychological health to decision-making, you cannot and will not perform at maximum capacity if you are overly tired. Once again, healthy sleep can be a challenge for any recovering addict and is something that needs to be managed very carefully. Whatever it takes though, you need to be aware of the fact that if you do not gain control of your sleeping habits, you immediately stand an elevated chance of failure.

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