Recovery can have a lot of ups and downs. For most people, being in recovery means that they’re actively working a program, have a sponsor, and go to support groups regularly. It’s easy to believe that if you’re doing these things, you’ll never take a drink or use a drug again. But that’s not always the case. For many people, a relapse or slip is a part of their recovery story. But what is the difference between a relapse and a slip? How do you know which is which?
Understanding Relapse vs. Slips
When a person in recovery returns to alcohol or drugs after a period of sobriety, it’s either called a relapse or a slip.
A slip is when you use alcohol or drugs, realize it’s a huge mistake, and go right back into recovery with full force. While the act of using is considered a relapse, you choose to go back into recovery and work your program. When you stay in relapse, you continue to use, and you may not make it back into recovery.
Many people enter into relapse days or weeks before they choose to pick up a drink or drug. Relapse involves a return to the lifestyle addiction. If you’re in relapse, you usually stop going to 12-step meetings or calling your sponsor. You may hang out with old using friends or new ones.
You stop avoiding the people, places, and things that you once avoided and, although it may be in the back of your head, choose to start acting like you aren’t in recovery at all. Eventually, this behavior will bring you to use drugs. Once you’ve used drugs or alcohol, you have a decision to make. You can either bring yourself back to a 12-step meeting and continue in your recovery, or you keep with your addiction.
Relapse or a slip can be fatal, especially if your drug of choice is a drug like opioids or cocaine. While you may believe that you can use as much as you did, previously, the chances of an overdose are much higher when people relapse.
Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your recovery. If you feel like using, and you haven’t picked up yet, call your sponsor or go to a 12-step meeting.
Shame can keep you from returning to your 12-step groups or recovery program. Shame is the enemy of recovery – it tells you that you don’t deserve help or to get clean again. That’s a lie; anyone can get clean and turn their lives around. There is nothing that disqualifies a person from recovery.
If you have already relapsed, you may need more support such as an inpatient drug treatment program. You will probably need to go to detox to get any addictive drugs or alcohol out of your system. Please don’t stay isolated. You deserve help. Give us a call at 1-877-228-2401 to learn more about your options.