Picking up alcohol or drugs again is always a bad choice for people in recovery. The extent of the damage caused by this will usually be determined by the speed by which people can quit again. Some individuals will be able to stop right away while others will rapid fall back into their addiction. In some cases those who return to their abuse will never manage to stop again – this means that their return to addiction is likely to be a death sentence. It is vital that those who relapse understand that they can still build a successful life in recovery. The sooner they can stop again the better it will be for them.
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.
Even a brief return to substance abuse is a big mistake for people trying to recover from addiction. A slip is a setback, but it doesn’t have to progress into a full-blown relapse. It is understandable that people will feel guilty and a bit ashamed of their slip, but feeling this way can also be highly dangerous – it also benefits nobody. They may convince themselves that all is lost and so the only option is to resume their addiction like before. This type of thinking is not only highly destructive, but it is also completely wrong. A slip can be the turning point in recovery because it indicates that people have been doing something wrong. If these individuals can learn from the incident it may mean that their recovery will be stronger than ever before.
If people have a slip it means that their recovery is now on very shaky ground. In order to avoid a full-blown relapse they will need to take action such as:
* The most important thing is for the individual to not engage in any further alcohol or drug abuse. The thinking of the person who has slipped can be treacherous. They may believed that as they have already taken alcohol or drugs there is no reason not to use some more – the idea that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. They will promise themselves that they will stop tomorrow, but they can use the same justifications then. It is vital that people stop any further substance abuse right away.
* Those who belong to a support group should seek assistance right away. If they have a sponsor they can get in contact with this person for advice and support. They should get to a meeting as soon as possible. People do feel embarrassed that they’ve slipped, but it is crucial that they admit to it.
* In order to avoid relapse the individual needs to redouble their efforts in recovery. Staying sober has to once again become the priority in their life, and they need to be willing to do whatever it takes to stay free of addiction. They will need to learn more about the relapse process and relapse triggers, and how to avoid these.
* Slips often occur when people are bored in recovery. It is therefore advisable that they look at this and think of productive ways to fill their time.
* A slip always happens for a reason and if the cause is not found then it is likely to occur again. The individual needs to conduct an honest assessment of their recent behavior to see where they have gone wrong.
* Those people who have past recently through a rehab should make use of the aftercare services available.
Even if people have fully returned to their addiction they can still call a halt to their decent. The longer they leave this the harder it will be. Feelings of shame and failure are to be avoided because these just feed the addiction. The important thing is to look to the future. The time already spent in recovery will not be wasted so long as the individual can once again put a halt to the abuse. Perhaps the reminder of how bad things can be in addiction will mean that they are more motivated to stay sober in the future.
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Drug or alcohol rehabilitation works at DARA by taking you away from your daily triggers and stresses that lead to your drug or alcohol use in the first place.
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DARA can use a model to help conceptualize the process of recognizing there is a drinking or drug problem and taking action to do something about it.