Risks for Addicts During Social Isolation

MastHead Outline
August 19, 2020

Many people are experiencing a wide array of emotions during social isolation, such as loneliness, boredom, frustration, anxiety and stress. For patients undergoing treatment for opioid addiction, these feelings may be difficult to understand and manage alone, and self-care can suffer as a result. However, understanding how to be self-aware and practice self-care is especially important during these times to avoid relapse.

What Is HALT?

One way to recognize the signs of poor self-care that could potentially lead to relapse is by using the acronym HALT. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. These four elements are basic human needs. If these needs aren’t met, that lack of fulfillment could increase the risk of a relapse.

Self-care is tied to these needs because no one can feel physically and mentally well when failing to meet a core need. For example, recognizing feelings of loneliness can prompt someone to connect with friends and family members — a self-care act that also fulfills a basic need.


Hunger is one of the most fundamental human needs. It’s important to eat when feeling hungry, but it’s also vital to eat regular, balanced meals to feel physically and emotionally well.

Without proper nutrients or well-balanced meals, it might be easy to look for fulfillment somewhere else — potentially in prior habits and behaviors.


When difficult or frustrating circumstances arise, anger is a natural human response. When this emotion rises up, stop and try to understand what is causing it.

Is there a way to confront the cause of anger and instead express emotions in a healthy and constructive way? If not, try non-destructive ways of letting out anger, such as going for a run or creating art.


Feeling lonely is common, especially during social isolation. Even with current social distancing and stay at home orders in place, there are still ways to reduce the feelings of isolation. Try reaching out to a support group by text, email, phone or video conferencing. When possible, safely connect with people face-to-face.

Many recovery programs also offer virtual meetings with medical professionals and recovery groups so that addicts have the treatment, support and human connection they need to get through treatment.


Not getting adequate rest or sleep can have physical and emotional consequences. It can wear the body down, making it harder to manage emotions and cope with difficult situations.

Take a nap when needed, and try to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Consider setting a routine and going to bed at the same time every night for better sleep.

Start the Recovery Journey at AppleGate Recovery

Even during these periods of social isolation, AppleGate Recovery offers hope, treatment, resources and support for those struggling with addiction. With services such as Telehealth, our patients can continue their treatment from the comfort of their homes.

With unlimited access to our medical providers and counselors, patients will have the support they need whenever they need it. To learn more about recovery while continuing to live life to the fullest, check out our guide on getting started and reach out to us with any questions.