At any point along your recovery journey there may come a time that you lapse or relapse. Contrary to popular believe, a relapse or slip is not inevitable and not an absolute part of your recovery. However, the data supports that the potential of it happening is very high, especially within your first year. If this does happen to you, you much never consider this a moral failure or a fall from grace.
Most likely, you have spent many of years managing the stressors in your life with addictive behaviors or substance use. Be incredibly mindful of the potential and more appropriately put, inevitable return of those stressors. Having a strong, daily recovery practice is key to reducing the chances of a relapse or lapse.
It is hard to keep up with the demands of a committed addiction recovery program, especially when life seems to be going so well. Going to meetings, completing sobriety checklists, or thinking about the consequences of your behavior on a daily basis, can get boring and rather time consuming. We all want nothing more than to forget all of those consequences and wish that others would forget them as well. However, as much as we do not want to live in the past, if we do not learn from it, we are destined to repeat it. You never know when life will toss you a curve ball. It is best to keep your seat belt securely fastened because life can be a bumpy road.
There are many opinions about what constitutes a slip and how it differs from a relapse. Lets take a look at the difference.
A slip is considered to be a less serious occurrence than a relapse. Both events are negative, but they differ in the degree of impact they will have on the life of the individual. Slips are when people pick up alcohol or drugs after a period of sobriety but stop again almost right away. They might have had one night where they returned to their former behavior but realized right away that it was a mistake. As soon as they sobered up they were able to return to life in recovery. A slip is often a spur of the moment event and not something that the individual has been planning.
A relapse is far more serious than a slip because it means that the individual has returned to their former addiction. The word relapse means to fall again. It often starts off as a slip, but then progresses from there. This relapse may last for days or it could be longer than this. It may mean that the current attempt to escape addiction has been completely abandoned. The individual might never have another opportunity to give up alcohol or drugs. The person who relapses can easily end up right back where they started if they don’t stop quickly. The fact that the individual has experienced life away from alcohol or drugs may mean that addiction is more painful than ever.
What to do if you slip or relapse
Get help right away, you must tell someone. The fact that you have returned to the previous behavior of your substance use is indicative of worse things to come. Something is not working in your recovery journey. You must reach out at all costs. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up and give up. Slips and relapses happen and they can happen to you. Your life is more important. Reach out today. It will be the second best decision in your life.