Slip vs Relapse

by May 10, 2019SUD Resources0 comments

Slip vs Relapse


A slip is a single episode of use. Think of a slip as information, a signal that something is not working. Think about what happened, and figure out what changes are needed.

A slip is limited to a short period of time, the risk to your safety is low, and you make an effort to learn from your mistake and get back on the right track, it likely won’t be disastrous. You can bounce back, too, by staying calm and positive. Understand that a slip is normal and don’t overreact or get angry. The last thing you want to do is shame yourself and increase the chance of using again. Remember: Recovery is about progress, not perfection.

Unfortunately, sometimes a slip can turn into a relapse, which is longer in duration and more sustained. If you don’t deal with your slip properly and take the proper steps necessary to correct the behavior—like understanding why it happened and what you can do to make it less likely—the chances of going back to using substances on a more frequent, regular basis increase. This can often result in a return to full-blown addiction.


A relapse, on the other hand, is a return to chronic use. If you relapse, it is important to get back on track again. The sooner you stop a relapse, the better. You will eventually succeed. Don’t discourage yourself, stay positive and attempt to avoid the shameful thoughts, “I messed up, why does it matter now”, the hopelessness thoughts, self ­blame, and other negative reactions will not help you get back on track. Negative thinking only makes relapse easier and abstinence harder.

Some say it is as simple as a coping response. It is a setback, not a failure! Again, its progress, not perfection, something you will read & hear in the rooms of recovery and it is a crucial aspect to understanding how to keep moving forward.

A dream in which you drink or use can also be a warning. Think about what you are doing and how you might be drifting toward use.

  • People often relapse when they feel better and more in control: they think that moderate use is okay. This thinking often leads to relapse.
  • Daydreaming about the fun you had while using is a sign of relapse.
  • Finding yourself talking about old times (sharing “war stories”) can also signal a relapse about to happen.

If you find your self going through a relapse, check out our blog on what to consider moving forward below

 I relapsed, Now What?

To our readers: If there is any other advice you have for staying sober through the holidays, we’d love to hear from you!


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