Traveling, no matter the reason can often, if not always, illicit a full-blown stress response. Proper planning is essential to maintain your sobriety if airline travel is in your foreseeable future. The HALT acronym (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) is a valuable tool to pack with your overhead luggage.
What is H.A.L.T.?
These four words - (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) are often taught in addiction recovery. A big part of staying clean and sober is taking care of yourself and being aware of certain signs and stressors. When drinking or using drugs you probably didn’t consider how certain feelings would lead to drinking and use drugs, but using this acronym is an easy way to recognize your emotions and to help you stay clean and sober, especially when traveling.
Both physical and psychological states of hunger can emerge during travel. Long delays leave plenty of opportunity for unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Those who suffer with addictive behavior disorders often resort to filling these voids in old familiar, yet destructive ways. A common occurrence is the alcoholic with a three-hour layover and full lounge access; often finding themselves powerless to resist the urge to use alcohol to fill the
Travelling today can easily be filled with frustration and anger. With long TSA lines, cancelled flights and lost luggage, one can easily find themselves enraged with the perceived ridiculousness of it all. Alcoholics are infamous for using alcohol to sooth the inner beast provoked by airline delays. Others find it easier to reach for the pill bottle to quell the inner turmoil and "relax" in these situations.
Loneliness can be a very dark state of mind. There are two distinct aspects to loneliness.
- When traveling, your support network i.e.,) friends, family, sponsor, etc. are often not with you. This can be terrifying for a person in recovery especially in the initial stages when independent coping skills have not been fully developed.
- Being alone also calls on you to be accountable to yourself when no one else is watching. “ I can have one and no one will know.”
Everyone gets tired but to varying extents. Being tired can take a toll on the body, mind and soul. Travelling can push you to the brink of exhaustion quickly. With uncomfortable seats, delays, crying babies, redeye flights, time changes and much more. Being tired is an expected part of travel today. When you are tired you are less equipped to implement any sobriety tools effectively.
HALT is a useful sobriety acronym used to help identify the stressors of travel. Identifying potential issues ahead of time will increase your resiliency while navigating the labyrinth of travel today. In our next blog look for more detailed information on how to implement this tool while travelling and in other stress situations.