9 Daily Habits to Aid in Your Recovery Journey 

February 21, 2024

4 mins

Jackie Rosu


HALT stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.” Stress, especially over time, can lead to relapse.

HALT stands for “hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.” Stress, especially over time, can lead to relapse. Evidence shows people in recovery who keep HALT in mind have a lower chance of relapse by reducing their stress levels. Studies show 40-60% of people in recovery relapse, and simple self-maintenance from the HALT model reduces those risks by taking on stressors. 

People who work to improve their lives through HALT and see results increase their self-esteem, a critical component of recovery and healing. A routine that assigns specific activities to set times each day and includes activities to look forward to leaves little time for indulgence. It also teaches patients how to live a life full of healthy, enjoyable activities. Adherence to the schedule requires discipline, but it rewards those who persevere. 

  1. Learn About HALT and Build Recovery Habits 

HALT is a “program” to remind participants to handle their basic needs and address them before they become an issue. Insufficient sleep, hunger, anger, and isolation are “risk states” that weaken decision-making skills and encourage bad choices. Lower stress levels reduce opportunities to make those bad decisions. Fewer opportunities for bad choices lower relapse rates, which makes HALT an invaluable recovery tool. 

  1. Stick to a Schedule 

HALT implementation requires structure. In a HALT schedule, the patient performs the same activities at the same time every day. They choose a time to go to bed, a time to wake up, and a time to eat 2-3 balanced meals every day. The schedule also incorporates socialization and time for hobbies at the end of a long day. Sticking to a plan ensures the patient has enough time and energy to meet their daily needs. 

  1. Eat Well 

Someone who eats healthy consumes nutritious food in reasonable amounts. In HALT, they also eat at the same time every day. Consistent eating maintains energy levels, focus, and motivation throughout the day. Patients should experiment as they build their schedules and structure the remainder of their day around periods of high and low energy. 

  1. Sleep 

People who go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning tend to feel more rested. Fatigue exposes people in recovery to cravings and inhibited decision-making while sufficient sleep:

  • Boosts the immune system 
  • Helps manage weight 
  • Lowers risk of diabetes or heart disease 
  • Improves cognition 
  • Reduces stress 

Sober people often suffer from insomnia, and life stress compounded by lack of sleep may encourage drug use as a coping mechanism. Patients can exercise to help their bodies get enough sleep and enjoy many other benefits. 

  1. Exercise 

Combined with healthy eating, exercise can help a body strained by substance use disorder recover. People who exercise often feel tired after a long day. They go to sleep sooner, and when they wake up, they start the day with more energy. Exercise also boosts the immune system, improves mood and cognition, and has other benefits for people in recovery. It releases dopamine and serotonin, which are the same neurotransmitters released by drug use. 

Substance abuse desensitizes the brain to these neurotransmitters, which are associated with feelings of happiness and satisfaction. It needs more to achieve the same baseline, and these reduced transmitter levels cause alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Exercise gives the brain a healthy source of these chemicals, which reduces cravings

While many people exercise alone, team activities, exercise clubs, and gyms all give people in recovery the opportunity to socialize.

  1. Socialize

Loneliness aggravates stress from sobriety and recovery. Family and friends, when present, do their best to support their loved one’s sobriety journey. But for many people, regular visits “are not a consistent part of their routines.”

Sober activities like hobbyist meetings, conventions, support group meetings, and other events give patients something to look forward to. Excitement, preparation, and anticipation distract from cravings and symptoms. Group activities also give patients much-needed time with others and away from their thoughts, which is valuable since rumination on harmful thoughts leads to relapse

Patients can use support group meetings and therapy sessions to socialize when they begin their sobriety journey. These regular appointments help them track their progress as they rebuild their lives and connect them to the first members of their new support networks. These meetings can inspire them to try new things to occupy their time. 

  1. Learn New Hobbies and Skills 

Fun activities and dedicated time to enjoy them give people in recovery something to look forward to in an otherwise stressful time. The HALT routine is important, but there is also an opportunity to inject fun into their schedule and help patients stick to it so they don’t miss out.

Many drug treatment programs now offer vocational training for this reason. Success in classes that teach new skills builds vital self-esteem that can continue well after treatment. They can also direct patients toward new career paths after they graduate from the program. Even outside recovery, classes give patients something to look forward to while coping with everyday life's frustrations. 

  1. Make Time for Mindfulness 

While rumination on negative thoughts threatens sobriety, dedicated time for calm and introspection does not. Time alone to actively think helps fill the hole in patients’ schedules left by indulgence.

Mindfulness practice takes many forms. Patients can practice therapeutic exercises, write their thoughts in a journal, or reflect on their accomplishments and plans to improve next time. They could also meditate, another stress relief exercise that relaxes the mind and reduces anger.

  1. Experiment with Never Alone Programs and Free Addiction Recovery Support 

Patients unsure where they should begin can always turn to online resources. Never Alone Recovery operates a free online support group available to anyone. Never Alone Recovery can also put drug treatment plans together for busy or overwhelmed patients and much more. 

Call now to learn more about Never Alone Recovery and the next stages of the sobriety journey. 

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