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Differences and Similarities Between a Slip and a Relapse

Written on February 16, 2024
Differences and Similarities Between a Slip and a Relapse

Regardless of the similarities and differences between a slip and a relapse, someone who struggles with addiction should avoid both at all costs. These things happen, people who struggle with substance abuse turn to these substances to cope, and when life gets tough it is only natural to want to return to what is familiar.

However, using drugs and alcohol after a period of abstinence can be dangerous. Knowing how to avoid these situations can aid in stronger and long-term recovery from substance abuse. 

Slips and Relapse: Defining Both

Defining both a slip and a relapse is crucial for understanding both situations. In terms of a slip, it refers to an isolated or temporary return to the use of drugs and alcohol. Considered to be a minor setback, the individual can quickly return to a recovery state. Thus, they can remain abstinent from using substances.

However, a relapse refers to a more in-depth, prolonged return to drug and alcohol abuse that leads to negative and detrimental consequences. During a relapse, the individual tends to return to the same lifestyle they were at before reaching a period of abstinence.

Similarities Between Them

There are similarities between a slip and a relapse that may make it difficult to differentiate between the 2. Both involve using substances again after quitting. Both circumstances result in a setback in addiction recovery.

Additionally, both situations can bring to light any vulnerabilities within a person’s recovery journey. They can shed light on triggers, stressors, and areas for improving relapse prevention. They can both call for the need for a greater support system and continued care. However, knowing the key differences between them is crucial.

Key Differences Between a Slip and a Relapse

Using drugs and alcohol after a prolonged period of abstinence can be soul-crushing. Individuals who have fought so hard, and come so far may feel defeated if they use substances again. However, these situations can either lead to continued using, or can be a learning experience to continue building a life in recovery. Knowing the differences between a slip and a relapse can help someone to get back on the right track, regardless of the situation.

A slip, as previously stated, refers to a lapse in recovery. A slip usually means there was a shorter, isolated moment of using drugs and alcohol, while a relapse is more long-term and detrimental. It is a more significant, prolonged return to addictive substances. People in a relapse generally return, fully, to the life lived before a period of recovery. 

What Causes Relapse?

Relapses can occur for various reasons. One of the most prevalent causes can be undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions. Many people turn to the use of drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, which leads to full-blown addiction to substances taking over again.

Other causes of relapse can be lack of support, not having the tools and skills needed to fend off cravings, and being in situations where other people are using substances. Being vigilant when it comes to maintaining recovery is vital to preventing relapse. 

How Do Slips Occur?

A slip and a relapse occur in very similar ways. It is how the individual deals with it that determines how detrimental it will be. A slip could be a result of mental health conditions, just as in a relapse. However, during a slip, the individual can identify the unhealthy coping mechanism and put forth the effort to fix it and prevent another.

A slip may also occur due to temptation. The momentary lapse in healthy coping skills can lead to a slip to deal with stress, anxiety, or emotional distress.

Contributing Factors

Many factors can contribute to a slip and a relapse. Struggling with a dual diagnosis that wasn’t properly addressed can contribute to a person’s use of drugs and alcohol after a period of recovery.

Other contributing factors can include physical and emotional pain, loss of job, the passing of a close family member, or even just stress in everyday life. Having the proper tools to cope with these situations is crucial for preventing situations like slips and relapse. 

Therapy and Healing Techniques

Therapy plays a huge role in avoiding a slip and a relapse. During addiction treatment, an individual has an array of different therapeutic options that are geared toward helping people learn healthy and necessary coping skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a widely used and proven form of therapy that helps individuals learn healthier ways of handling unhealthy, detrimental thoughts and behavioral patterns leading to substance use.

Another form of beneficial therapy is dialectical behavioral therapy. This helps people who feel intense emotions to get through them without self-destruction. Regardless of the therapy used, addiction treatment should be tailored to the individual’s needs and goals for the future. 

Preventing Slips and Relapses

Whether it be a relapse or a slip, using drugs and alcohol again after a period of abstinence can be a difficult experience. Working to fight off cravings or fighting to stay clean and sober for so long, then having a moment where the decision to use overcomes logic can be mentally and emotionally trying.

However, there is help after a relapse or slip. If you or a loved one have found yourself struggling again after a period of abstinence, we can help. At Flatirons Recovery, we strive to provide the best care geared toward helping individuals maintain long-term recovery.

Call us today and begin the road back to a better path.