Knowing if it was a Slip or Relapse
Making the decision to use alcohol or drugs again is always a dangerous choice for a person in recovery. The severity of the damage which this will lead to for the recovering addict and the people around them is usually determined by the time it takes that person to set the substance back down and quit again.
In some cases, this can happen rather quickly. There are those recovering addicts who slip up and only take a small amount of the substance they were once addicted to, then almost immediately regret doing so and call a sponsor or counselor.
However, in many cases, a person will quickly slip back into their addiction. When this occurs, it is common that the person who relapses never manages to stop again. Although it can seem like the easier decision is to give up after trying to recover once and failing, it is important for those who relapse to understand that they still have a chance at re-building their life in recovery. The sooner a person stops using, the easier it will be on them and the sooner they can continue on the road to recovery.
Was It Just a Slip?
A slip is normally viewed as less concerning than a relapse. While a slip can be defined as a single moment of weakness that is normally unplanned, a relapse happens when a recovery plan is completely deserted.
Let’s look at it from a different point of view – say for example you want to begin a healthy diet plan. You go to the grocery store and stock your fridge with fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. You toss away the junk food in your house and start going on runs every evening after work.
After a week you are invited out to a party where there are brownies on the table, and in a moment of weakness, you eat one or two. This would be a slip. If after the party, you decide to stop by a grocery store and purchase an entire birthday cake, a carton of ice cream, and fried food, and binge on this for the next few days — that is a relapse. You made the conscious decision to go out of your way to continue down an unhealthy path and abandon your diet.
How a Slip Turns into a Relapse
Returning to substance abuse, even briefly, is a huge mistake for anyone in recovery from addiction. While it is normal to feel guilty and ashamed of a slip, this does not mean that it has to turn into a full blown relapse.
It is normal for a person to feel hopeless – that their only choice now is to return to their addiction because they have already thrown away all the progress that they made in recovery. This could not be further from the truth.
A slip, while it is a minor setback, also can be viewed as an indication that the person has triggers that they handle the wrong way. By viewing this as an opportunity to learn a bit more about the reason behind the slip and consider different ways to handle a similar situation in the future, recovery can be stronger moving forward.
If You Relapse
If someone makes the conscious decision to begin using again and completely deserts their recovery plan, there are options for them to turn back to recovery. As stated above, the longer a person decides to continue relapsing, the more difficult it will be for them to recover. It is important to try to keep feelings of shame, regret, and failure as far from the mind as possible, as these will only feed the addiction. Try to look ahead and remember that sobriety is always an option.
If you or someone you love has had a slip or relapse and would like guidance, call one of our counselors here at Destination Hope.