Definition of Relapse: a deterioration in health after a temporary improvement.
Synonyms of Relapse: deteriorate, weakening, setback, recurrence, repetition, etc
These notes are from recovery in AA and/or related 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click external links for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.
Love in fellowship.
The Difference between a Slip and a Relapse.
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. –AlcoholRehab | More…
We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. –Big Book | More… p.85
About this slip business, I think you are suffering a great deal from a needless guilt. God is not asking us to be successful. He is only asking us to try to be. –As Bill Sees It | More… (P.11)
Now is the time to learn about our sickness–alcoholism. It is a chronic illness. That means it never goes away. Our disease is “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” The more we know about it, the less we’ll let it fool us. We must learn to recognize the first trouble signs in ourselves so we can get help to stay sober. –Keep It Simple | More…
Emotional sensitivity may even be part of our alcoholism. Most important, we must ensure that emotional binges do not become binges involving real booze. –Walk in Dry Places/Mel B. | More…
Relapse is a sign that we have a reservation in our program. A reservation is something we set aside for future use. In our case, a reservation is the expectation that, if such-and-such happens, we will surely relapse. –Just For Today | More…
Top 14 Symptoms of A Relapse
1. Exhaustion: Becoming overly tired – heads up, workaholics.
2. Dishonesty: Little lies and deceits – making excuses.
3. Impatience: Things do not happen fast enough – others not doing what they should. Road rage and driving dangerously are signs also.
4. Argumentativeness: Arguing ridiculous points of view – looking for an excuse to drink, use drugs, gamble, or other “acting-out” addictions.
5. Depression: Unreasonable despair – Problems not being talked out.
6. Frustration: At people and things that may not be going your way.
7. Self-pity: Why do these things only happen to me? Why am I like I am? (Hint: Even if you do know why you are as you are – it does not change anything. You have to make changes.)
8. Over-Confidence: Thinking you have got-it-made – you no longer fear your addiction – and you take risks getting involved with people, places, and things that you know are high risk.
9. Complacency: Thinking everything is ok, and “forgetting” about past negative consequences. Cruising on yesterday’s recovery.
10. Expecting too much from others: “I have changed, why hasn’t everyone else started to trust me, reward me, etc…”
11. Abuse of Over The Counter Medicines: Rather than your “drug of choice” or mood altering substances.
12. Personal expectations set too high: Setting goals that are unattainable, or that take time and effort to obtain and not willing to be patient and put in the hard work. “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
13. Selective Memory: Forgetting what you were like when you were using, abusing or deep into your addiction. Learn to be grateful each day, even if the world seems a little less colourful to you – it will get better.
14. Not rewarding yourself in healthy ways: Still thinking that substance use is a reward, or something that you deserve.
Most people, who have gotten to the point where their substance use could be considered abuse, or that they were or are addicted or dependent, cannot really go back to controlled use. Like it or not, for many it is a fact of life. –12 Step Gazette | More…
Punishment never heals. Only love can heal.
Resentment is a primary cause of relapses into drinking and for us ‘To drink is eventually to go mad or die.’ –AS Bill Sees It | More… (p.98)
Slips can often be charged to rebellion; some of us are more rebellious than others. Slips may be due to the illusion that one can be ‘cured’ of alcoholism.
Slips can also be charged to carelessness and complacency. Many of us fail to ride out these periods sober. Too little self-forgiveness and too little prayer–well, this combination adds up to slips. –As Bill Sees It | More… (p.99)
An early fear was that of slips or relapses. Today, though slips are a very serious difficulty, as a group we take them in stride. Alcohol always threatens the individual, but we know that it cannot destroy the common welfare. –As Bill Sees It | More… (p.154)
Our spiritual and emotional growth in A.A. does not depend so deeply upon success as it does upon our failures and setbacks. If you will bear this in mind, I think that your slip will have the effect of kicking you upstairs instead of down.–As Bill Sees It | More… (p.184)
Though I know how hurt and sorry you must be after this slip, please do not worry about a temporary loss of your inner peace. As calmly as you can, just renew your effort in the A.A. program, especially those parts of it which have to do with meditation and self-analysis.
“Could I also suggest that you look at excessive guilt for what it is? Nothing but a sort of reverse pride. A decent regret for what has happened is fine. –As Bill Sees It p.330 | Letter, 1958
Trying to avoid the humbling experience of the Fifth Step, newcomers turn to a seemingly easier and softer way. Almost invariably, they slip. –A Day At A time | More…
There is some alcoholic thought, conscious or unconscious, that comes before every slip.
As long as we live, we must be on the lookout for such thoughts and guard against them.
In fact, our A.A. training is mostly to prepare us, to make us ready to recognize such thoughts at once and to reject them at once. The slip comes when we allow such thoughts to remain in our minds. –24 Hours | More…
The thoughts that come before having a slip seem to be partly subconscious. An idle thought connected with drinking casually pops into our mind.
That is the crucial moment. I pray that I may strive to be the kind of a person that God would have me be. –24 Hours | More…
When people come back to A.A. after having a slip, the temptation is strong to say nothing about it. Their slip should not be mentioned again by others.
The world talks about bodies that are undernourished. What of the souls that are undernourished? Strength and peace come from partaking of spiritual food. –24 Hours | More…
Our spiritual and emotional growth in A.A. does not depend so deeply upon success as it does upon our failures and setbacks. A relapse can provide a positive experience toward abstinence and a lifetime of recovery.
A relapse brings truth to what we hear repeatedly in meetings – “Don’t take that first drink!” It reinforces the belief in the progressive nature of the disease, and the need for humility in our spiritual program. Simple truths come in complicated ways to me when I become ego driven. –Daily Reflections | More…
What do we say to a person who has slipped, or one who calls for help? –A Day At A Time | More…
It’s hard for many of us to believe in ourselves. But when someone loves us unconditionally, offering support no matter how many times we’ve relapsed, recovery in AA becomes a little more real for us. –Just for Today | More…
Despite the fact that our new life in recovery is rewarding, the urge to use can sometimes be overwhelming. When everything in our lives seems to go wrong, a return to using can seem like the only way out.
But we know what the consequence will be if we use—the loss of our carefully nurtured spirituality. We have travelled too far along the spiritual path to dishonour our spirit by using. Snuffing the spiritual flame we have worked so hard to restore in our recovery is too dear a price to pay for getting high. –Just for Today | More…
The Twelve Steps are a suggested program of recovery, not a cure. We remain vulnerable to slips, binges, and a return to old behaviors.
If that has happened to us, our first need is to find a way back to the program.
The promise of recovery in this program, a healed life, is just as available after a slip as it ever was. –Touchstones | More…
Our spiritual and emotional growth in A.A. does not depend so deeply upon success as it does upon our failures and setbacks. A relapse can provide a positive experience toward abstinence and a lifetime of recovery. A relapse brings truth to what we hear repeatedly in meetings – “Don’t take that first drink!”
It reinforces the belief in the progressive nature of the disease, and the need for humility in our spiritual program. Simple truths come in complicated ways to me when I become ego driven. –Daily Reflections | More…
There is a death that accompanies a return to active addiction that may be worse than physical death. That is the spiritual death we experience when we are separated from our Higher Power.
If we use, the spiritual relationship we have nurtured will weaken and perhaps disappear. We will feel truly alone. No matter how badly we may feel in our recovery, a relapse is never the answer. There is no doubt that we have periods of darkness in our recovery.
There is only one way we can make it through those troubling times: with faith. If we believe that our Higher Power is with us, then we know that all will be well. –Just For Today | More…