The Difference Between A Slip and Relapse


1. Slip Vs Relapse

Families of individuals with addictions are not just an important part of treatment, but an important part of recovery (i.e.

life after treatment).

Relapse can be one of the biggest worries once loved ones return home from treatment, yet many can’t identify what true relapse looks like.

TO complicate matters, there is no universally agreed upon definition for β€œrelapse”

2. What is Relapse?

While there are many definitions available, a relapse can be defined as β€œa return to previous levels of substance use or behaviour(s) after a period of improvement”.

Generally, total relapse reflects a higher severity in the return to addictive behaviours.

3. What is a Slip?

A slip is defined as β€œa break in abstinence” or β€œthe act or instance of back-sliding”.

A popular belief is that slips are not as detrimental as relapse.

The belief is that it is different from relapse, because a slip is not a complete return to addictive behaviours.

4. Behaviour & Process Addictions

Adding to the confusion surrounding slips and relapse, are those with process addictions such as food, sex, video games, and internet use.

For this group, it is not necessarily realistic to abstain permanently.

For example, people with food or sex addiction need to develop moderate, healthy sexual or eating behaviours.

5. Harm Reduction

Definitions of relapse and slips also become confusing when the definition of recovery shifts from the traditional view of abstinence to moderate removal.

For example, individuals with opioid addiction may need to taper in order to achieve long-term recovery.

They may even need to use other painkillers to ease an injury or recover from surgery in the future.

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