Using The HALT Method for Relapse Prevention

The HALT method is a valuable strategy for preventing relapse in addiction recovery. The key to maintaining sobriety is not only learning to manage triggers but is also a combination of self-care and self-awareness. HALT is a handy acronym that stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Avoiding these risky states of being can be helpful for those in recovery and can go a long way to avoiding relapse. Although it may seem simple, we are susceptible to self-destructive behaviours, including relapse when these basic needs are not met. Below we take a closer look at the HALT method for relapse prevention.

Here's how the HALT method works:


The term “hungry” was recently included in the Oxford Dictionary for a reason. Hunger pangs lead to intense emotions, irritability and irrational decisions. For those in recovery, meeting our nutritional needs is important for us to maintain physical and mental stability. However, hunger can have a metaphorical context too and can describe a yearning for intangible things such as affection, accomplishment, and understanding. This is where a support system becomes invaluable.


Becoming angry from time to time is human nature, and anger is a normal, healthy emotion to experience. However, it’s important to understand what is causing your anger and to know how to express it properly. Anger can be a trigger and can easily lead to reckless decisions, such as returning to substance abuse. No matter what is bothering you, HALT and assess how best to confront it. Do not let your emotions lead you down a path that you will regret in the long run.


You don’t necessarily have to be alone in order to feel lonely. It’s easy to feel isolated even when surrounded by people. Loneliness can lead to an urge to self-medicate through the return to substance abuse. Much like the metaphorical “hunger” discussed above, this state of being can be avoided through a strong support system. Going to a meeting, calling a friend, or visiting a loved one can be ways to reach out and reconnect with others.


Running low on energy reduces our ability to think clearly and compromises our capacity to cope with our day to day lives. It may seem like an easy trigger to address but in our society burnout and exhaustion are more common than one may think. Satisfying the physical need to rest through sleep is critical to both physical and emotional wellbeing. But rest can also come in the form of just taking a break – like going for a walk, listening to music, meditating or simply doing something that you enjoy. Recharging your body, mind, and spirit is important in maintaining long-term sobriety.

HALT method

The key is to recognize when you are in a vulnerable HALT state and take proactive steps to address the underlying need. This can help prevent the early emotional and mental stages of relapse from progressing to physical relapse.By being mindful of the HALT factors and practicing self-care, individuals in recovery can develop the skills to manage triggers and maintain their sobriety.This approach emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, self-care, and support networks in preventing relapse. By recognizing and addressing the HALT states, individuals can build resilience and maintain their recovery over time.

How to utilize the HALT method effectively?

  1. Recognize the HALT States:
    The first step is to develop self-awareness and regularly check in with yourself to identify if you are experiencing any of the HALT states. Pause and ask yourself if you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
  2. Address Your Basic Needs:
    Once you’ve recognized a HALT state, take proactive steps to address the underlying need. If you are Hungry, have a healthy snack or meal. If you are Angry, find a constructive outlet to express your feelings, such as journaling or talking to a trusted friend. If you are Lonely, reach out to your support network. If you are Tired, prioritize getting sufficient rest.
  3. Practice Self-Care:
    Engaging in self-care activities that nurture your mind, body, and spirit can help prevent HALT states from occurring in the first place. This may include exercise, meditation, or pursuing a hobby you enjoy. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is key.
  4. Manage Cravings:
    If you do experience a craving, use your HALT awareness to identify the root cause. Then, implement your relapse prevention plan, such as calling your sponsor, attending a support group meeting, or engaging in a healthy distraction until the urge passes.
  5. Seek Support:
    Don’t hesitate to reach out to your treatment team, support group, or loved ones if you are struggling. Asking for help is a sign of strength and can make a significant difference in preventing relapse.

Recovery852 provides personal tailor-made treatment programmes to those affected by substance misuse. These include relapse prevention, aftercare programmes, recovery coaching and recovery wellness retreats. With an emphasis on mindfulness, Recovery852 goes beyond the confines of the session to bring long-lasting recovery to the many suffering from addiction and other mental health issues like anxiety and depression.