Slip vs Relapse: What’s The Difference? Addiction Terminology

Just found this thread and it’s been very helpful. My husband has lapsed today after 6 weeks abstinence from cocaine during which he spent 4 weeks in rehab. I’ve supported alcohol and drug abuse counseling him so much and the rage built up to such an extent that I punched his arm. The regret I feel for this now is eating me up, but I just saw red and reacted.

slip vs relapse

Better Addiction Care investigates the drug here and breaks down what you’ll need to know. Call now to take the first step to overcoming addiction. If there are any concerns about content we have published, please reach out to us at First, take yourself out of any situations you know are of highest risk for you to use alcohol. This may include leaving your home to take a walk or sit in a coffee shop if being alone with access to alcohol is a trigger for you.

Outside of the treatment centers, however, that conversation looks different. There is a common misconception that turning down that first drink is going to be enough to prevent relapse. Usually when things land at that particular stage, however, it can be hard to stop. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy can help.

Warning Signs of Relapse

It can take a lot of effort to change negative thinking patterns (blaming others, fearing it’s too much work) but hard work can teach helpful coping skills. When a person with a substance use disorder relapses, they need to take similar steps. Supervised detox is usually necessary to overcome withdrawal. A severe relapse may require inpatient treatment, but outpatient therapy may be appropriate for some people.

slip vs relapse

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

What are the circumstances someone might slip when it comes to drugs or alcohol?

I’m really feeling some of the things I’ve heard about. I’m hard on myself and have been under extreme stress.

Unfortunately, sometimes a slip can turn into a relapse, which is longer in duration and more sustained. If your child or loved one has previously been in recovery, any use of drugs or alcohol can be upsetting to you. But it’s important to realize that their behavior doesn’t necessarily mean that they will return to addiction.

  • What is black tar heroin and what can it do to the health of a user?
  • The U.S. surgeon general estimates that 9 percent of the U.S. population – or 22 million Americans — likely has a substance use disorder for alcohol or drugs.
  • There is evidence-based research and scientific support behind the 12-steps.
  • I know it will be a hard path for my brother, but this has been really great advice that I can use to encourage him.
  • In short, they’re setting themselves up for failure.

You may be at significantly higher risk of alcohol poisoning and other acute health issues. The U.S. surgeon general estimates that 9 percent of the U.S. population – or 22 million Americans — likely has a substance use disorder for alcohol or drugs. Countless others dip into misuse by binge drinking alcohol, taking unapproved prescription medications, or experimenting with illegal recreational drugs.

How Do You Prevent Slips and Relapse?

However, people who slip and don’t seek help often experience a physical relapse. They begin using obsessively or compulsively, and they start to experience negative consequences from that use. It usually begins weeks or months before a person slips for the first time. A person goes through numerous motions before fully relapsing. Researchers have divided those phases into three easy-to-understand stages.

slip vs relapse

The roller coaster of emotions and the anxiety from doubt, distrust and worry Is not an easy way to live. A slip can also be intentional but usually implies that it was a very short-lived period of use. Depending on who you ask, a “slip” and a “relapse” have several different meanings. Personalized support for addressing your child’s substance use or addiction available in English and Spanish. These calls are offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither this site nor anyone who answers the call receives a commission or fee dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

Slip vs. Relapse: What’s the Difference?

Talking to your recovery coach, sponsor, therapist, loved ones, or anyone else in your support system will help you move past the slip. This may be hard, especially if you have feelings of remorse and guilt. However, these people want you to succeed, and they will help you avoid slips in the future. Express your feelings and find the resolve to return to sobriety. The danger of a slip, after all, is that it easily can snowball into relapse.

Many in recovery find they need to learn new ways to enjoy themselves. Sometimes, recovery also involves a new set of friends. Friday night drinks with the old crowd may need to become movie nights with a different group of people. Feelings that the new arrangement lacks the old one’s magic can make the adjustment even harder.

However, Most addiction professionals distinguish between slip and relapse by looking at the addict’s intention. A slip is a single unplanned use of alcohol or drugs. Relapse happens when a recovery plan is completely abandoned. When a person slips in their recovery from addiction, it means they give in to their cravings or have a weak moment when facing a specific trigger. Substance use disorder shouldn’t be seen as a moral failure or some kind of weakness. Sometimes a person has a dual diagnosis of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety along with a substance use disorder.

Be honest with yourself, but choose the approach that best serves your sobriety. It’s important to know that relapse is possible, and often a very normal part of the recovery process. Somewhere between 40 to 60 percent of drug addicts relapse somewhere along their way, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse . Anyone who has faced a substance use disorder is vulnerable to relapse. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on It’s up to the person who slipped to decide whether they should change their clean date or date of sobriety.

In some situations, people must end relationships with others to fully recover and live healthy lives. Below, Turnbridge details what relapse means in the treatment community, as well as what it might mean for you and your loved one now. Fact is, relapse is one of the scariest words for people in recovery. But it is also a very normal part of the recovery process – especially for those in the early adjustment stages.

Sometimes a lapse, or a slip, happens, and that’s okay. That old adage known far and wide to the recovery community — one day at a time — is rooted in experience and wisdom. Expectancy theory — that those who expect to have a good time usually do, and vice-versa — suggests that focusing on success is a huge step 5 myths about drinking alcohol, debunked in the right direction. On the other hand, if people reminisce fondly about their days of using, they’re not focusing on the negative aspects of addiction. Sobriety seekers who experience a slip or a relapse might feel hopeless after overdoing things, but a backslide doesn’t necessarily doom one to failure.

The helpline is free, private, and confidential. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) could be forwarded to SAMHSA or a verified treatment provider. Calls are routed based on availability and geographic location.

You will also find information on spotting the signs and symptoms of substance use and hotlines for immediate assistance. Some people without hesitation, a slip means you return to day one. This type of attitude motivates some people to not have slips, and remain committed to their sobriety. Others find resetting the clock disheartening, and actually makes it harder for them to stay sober.

However, the obsessiveness created in the mental relapse stage can cause make you go think over the incident constantly, even if you only bought a drink and didn’t touch it or only had a sip. If they survive that, many or all of the same problems from the days of abuse may resurface, from health risks to job and relationship troubles to illegal activity. What to do after a how to cure a hangover fast relapse is more complicated, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse assures that addiction can be managed. Years of data and observation have led to newer treatments that take the likelihood of relapse under consideration and are designed to help prevent relapse. Viewing the lapse as a mistake rather than a failure allows the user to turn it into a learning opportunity.

Whenever my uncle has a bad day at work, I notice that he tends to drink beer and feels like he has to give up on his addiction recovery due to his lack of self-control. Maybe a change in environment can help prevent minor mistakes from turning into relapses. Thanks for explaining that mistakes can be used as a learning experience rather than leading to a relapse. My brother tends to give up completely whenever he cheats on his diets, but I want to make sure that he continues abstaining from drinking now that he has finally stopped. Maybe it would be best for him to talk to a professional who can help him realize that making a mistake doesn’t mean he should start drinking again.

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Matt is the lucky guy that gets to lead a team of passionate placemakers who work every day to make downtown San Antonio more beautiful, playful, prosperous, and welcoming. Since starting his career as an attorney, Matt accumulated 25+ years’ worth of experience in the private sector by founding play and creative companies; consulting for start-ups and Fortune 500s in strategy, innovation, and leadership; and serving as president and C-level executive for Scholastic, Klutz and LeapFrog, among others. Directly prior to moving to San Antonio, he was the Economic Development Director and Interim Land Use Director for Santa Fe, NM.  He and his daughter have visited 15 state capitals on their way to all 50! 

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Connie is a native San Antonian with roots planted deeply on San Antonio’s Southside. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Passionate about building strong communities, Connie loves acting as a connector to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and people to help each other reach their goals and work together. She works inbetween the Cultural Placemaking team and the Mainstreet Economic Development team, bringing vibrancy and support to urban core businesses to make downtown the place to be. When not at work, you can usually find her at the local plant nursery buying another plant, exploring new cafes/breweries, and spending time with family.

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Laura (She/Her) has a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin where she fostered a deep love for communication, critical theory, & experiential spaces. Her heart lies in community, communication, & creative spaces for connection & collaboration.

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Matt graduated from Texas Tech University in 2016 with a Dual Major in Media Strategies and Honors Arts & Letters with a minor in Italian (Benvenuto a tutti!). Matt oversees the marketing, public relations, and digital content for Centro. After sharing the story of Downtown San Antonio on digital channels, he enjoys creating TikToks about LGBTQ+ media. His mug graces a Fiesta Mural on the St. Mary’s Strip just north of Downtown. You can’t miss it. 

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