WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SLIP AND A RELAPSE?

Posted on September 1, 2022 View all news

Into: The Every Brain Matters community understands how difficult and painful it is when you have a child or loved one with destructive behaviors such as using marijuana or any drug. We also know that each family navigates recovery and healing in different ways, applying valuable tools from many types of effective support systems. The information given here is taken from one of these reliable systems.

We are grateful that the Cornerstone Team Counseling community addresses these tough recovery questions and is allowing us to share their insight with you. Since it is beneficial to hear different perspectives, the following answers are from clinical staff, teens in recovery, and parents.

To learn more, please visit The Every Brain Matters Support Section or click under the meeting tab to find more information on our support meetings for parents and families.

What is the difference between a slip and a relapse?

Perspective from Clinical Staff: A slip – the addict uses drugs or the enablers fall into denial or enabling. The person gets honest about it, they take ownership, they ask for help, and generally, they will become teachable. This can be a HUGE opportunity for growth and change. For many of us, this was our turning point in the world of real recovery.

A relapse is when the addict uses and covers it up with lies, half-truths, manipulation, and basically reverts back to their old using behavior. Relapse should be dealt with tough love and consequences to hopefully help the addict raise their bottom.

Perspective from a Parent: From the codependent parent side, a slip is temporarily reverting to my old behavior (enabling, hovering, rescuing, controlling, being the victim, etc..), but realizing it, seeing the harm, and digging back into my program, talking to my sponsor about it, and learning from it….and quickly returning to healthier behavior and actions.

Relapse is reverting back to my old codependent behavior and staying in denial and/or thinking that’s okay. Thinking I don’t need the recovery tools to keep the old chaos and consequences from returning to my life and relationships….

Perspective from a Teen: I don’t really know the difference, I mean regardless they didn’t use their tools and drank. I don’t really think which “term” you use matters. I think that using slip just softens the blow of the reality that you drank. The only thing that matters is what you do with it afterwards; whether you have humility, honesty, and willingness to grow and figure out what you did wrong so you don’t do it again, or you just keep doing the same thing and keep drinking.

Perspective from a Teen: A slip is taking something mind-altering, but being willing to grow from the mistake that was made. I know in my recovery the biggest slip that I had was when I went to the strip club. It solidified that looking at women as an object was no longer acceptable in my program. 

A relapse would be if I went to a bar and got hammered, but continued to come around like nothing ever happened. Or, if I would have completely lied about going to the strip club… Something that is largely detrimental to my long-term recovery.

See the parent story for more experience, strength, and hope.

“FOR A BETTER LIFE” 

Today I reflect back on my entire life and I find that I have been most blessed in the way life has been presented to me. I have a wonderful life, 2 caring daughters, and a  beautiful granddaughter. Above all, I have a serene relationship with my God, but I did not feel this way if you would have asked me about life 3-1/2 to 4 yrs. ago. 

Both of our daughters were adopted by us in 1996 at the age of 9 & 7. They had come from a home where drug and alcohol use by the birth parents was a routine part of their life, and where mental and physical abuse was documented.  

About four years ago, at the age of 15, my oldest daughter decided to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and before she knew it her world had changed. Her mom and I started to notice different behavior patterns but were not sure what was going on. I, as the keeper of the house and the problem solver, tried to keep a closer eye on her by controlling her daily routine, checking her school grades periodically, etc. It seemed that things got out of control very quickly, and the more I got involved in trying to control her, the worse things got. 

My daughter tested positive for drug use and that is when I finally resigned myself to the fact that I could not fix the problem and, against all my beliefs and pride, I asked for help.  She was hospitalized (short stays) a couple of times for her use and cutting on herself. It was the second time that Sundown Ranch was recommended, an in-patient drug treatment center near Dallas, Texas. 

For 90 days we took that weekend trip to Sundown, normally on Saturdays. we would leave the house at 9:00 am for a 3-hour drive, join the parent meeting, visit with our daughter, and then head back for the drive home. I could make that drive with my eyes closed after a while.

As we attended more meetings at Sundown, I realized that my daughter had to take care of herself and continue to fight her addiction and that this disease will be with her forever. With the right daily medicine, her addiction could be controlled. I started to get closer to God and prayer was becoming more routine. 

While our daughter was still at Sundown, it was recommended we attend Cornerstone, a  parent/kid program for families in recovery where meetings were held separately. We joined Cornerstone in March 2003. At first, the meetings were overwhelming. There were a lot of families in the group and most people seemed to know each other. I felt like an outsider. 

As I got more involved in the program, I started to learn more about myself. I discovered personal character defects. I got a sponsor and attended Step Study classes two different times. The second time in the Step Study class is when my transformation really took place. My self-inventory led me to get rid of hidden secrets and resentments. I made amends to those that I could, and I started talking more to my God, not just once or twice like I had been doing but at many different times. I started to see many changes in myself for A Better Life. 

Today, I enjoy my family better than ever before. I walk a proud path because of the way I live my life, and I am very confident that no matter what obstacles I am presented with, I  know I have the tools to conquer them. I get along with co-workers much better, and I respect everybody’s opinion. I quickly accept my errors and mistakes and make amends for them. 

Three and a half years ago I joined Cornerstone, a group of individuals that were of diverse culture, financial backgrounds, and faiths. These wonderful people each have different beliefs and worship individually according to their faith’s traditions. One thing that they all share is the respect for others. I have learned from the group the meaning of understanding, respect, support, and kindness, and to treat others the way we would like to be treated. 

I pause frequently and think of the people who have helped me become what I am today and those who cared about me and wanted the best for me in life. 

And all of this was for A Better Life


Glossary of terms:

Addict: An old term used to describe a person with a substance use disorder that is not currently socially accepted anymore.

Al-Anon: A twelve-step organization that provides support and hope for families affected by another person’s marijuana use.

Awakening: A term used after Completion of the 12 steps and the requirements of the Cornerstone community. Like a graduation but it’s viewed as a “spiritual awakening”

Climbers: an interactive educational group for family members to bring issues, questions or concerns, and receive direct feedback from a counselor and other family members. As well as learn tools of recovery to help you and your family. The Every Brain Matters community offers a Climbers meeting every Wednesday.

Destructive Behaviors: Self-destructive behavior is when you do something that’s sure to cause self-harm, whether it’s emotional or physical. Some self-destructive behavior is more obvious, such as: attempting suicide. binge eating. compulsive activities like gambling, using harmful drugs, gaming, or shopping.

IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy): treatment programs used to address addictions, depression, eating disorders, or other dependencies that do not require detoxification or round-the-clock supervision.

Mar-Anon Family Groups: A twelve-step organization that provides support and hope for families affected by another person’s marijuana use.

Parent-Driven Recovery: Tools that Work is a must-read for parents of substance-abusing teens. You’ll learn how to maneuver through the chaos to create a harmonious family life. Even if your teen is not ready or willing to change, there is help and hope.

Recovery: A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. A healing process.

Shots: A term used in the recovery community called Couerstone Team Counseling. It’s a customized list of rules and consequences each family makes for their homes. To learn more, attend the Every Brain Matters Climbers meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm Central time. A list of our meetings is at this link.

SO: Stands for Significant Others, a term sometimes used when graduating from an IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) after making amends to our “significant others”, or people we have harmed.

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