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  • SLIPS, LAPSES AND RELAPSES in Addictions

    Slip:

    reverting back to substance use, but only for a single episode and involving a very limited amount of the substance i.e. a single drink, joint, or line

    Lapse:

    while similar to a slip in being a single episode, involves increased consumption of the substance i.e. a binge drinking session, or going on a “run”

    Relapse:

    when an individual returns to their previous substance using patterns, and involves a perception of loss of control, and feeling of failure in making a behaviour change.

    What To Do When Slip, Lapse, or Relapse Occurs

    • it does NOT mean that you have forgotten everything you have already learnt;
    • it does NOT mean that you are a failure, that everything so far has all been a waste of time, and it’s all hopeless;
    • see it as a learning experience;
    • see it as a specific, unique event;
    • examine the incident OPENLY in order to reduce the amount of guilt and/or shame you may be feeling, as those thoughts can easily lead to a feeling of hopelessness and continuing with the substance use;
    • analyze the TRIGGERS for the incident;
    • examine what your EXPECTATIONS about the substance use were at the time i.e. what did you anticipate using would accomplish in THAT particular situation;
    • plan for dealing with the aftermath/consequences of the event;
    • tell yourself that control is only a thought and a moment away;
    • make immediate plans to revert back to recovery – don’t hesitate, do it NOW;
    • contact your counsellor and discuss the recent events.

    William Stokeld, M.A.

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