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Most people who struggle with drugs or alcohol will relapse once or more after a quit attempt. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.

The key to lasting success, then, is learning from your mistakes so you have a better chance of avoiding them the next time around.

To help with this, after a slip, ask yourself the following 13 questions and think about what factors – cognitive, environmental, social and others – contributed most significantly to your relapse.

13 Questions to Answer after a Slip

You can do this in your head, but you’ll gain more from the exercise by writing down your answers for review and contemplation.1

  1. Where were you before you slipped (you can list more than one place)?
  2. Who were you with in the day leading up to the slip?
  3. What were you doing in the day leading up to the slip?
  4. What were you thinking prior to the slip?
  5. When was the first time you became aware that you wanted to drink or use on the day it happened? What was happening around you that caused you to think about drinking or using?
  6. How were you feeling emotionally before the slip?
  7. What was your body telling you before the slip? Was your body sending you any signals?
  8. Once you started using what did you do, exactly? What and how much did you drink or use?
  9. Who was around you when you were drinking or using?
  10. What did your drinking or high feel like at the beginning? How were you feeling and what were you thinking?
  11. What did it feel like as you got further into it? How were you feeling and what were you thinking?
  12. What were the positive consequences of drinking or using?
  13. What were the negative consequences of drinking or using?

What’s the Point?

You probably have at least some idea of what caused your slip. However, identifying ALL major relapse triggers helps you to...2

  1. ...steer clear of avoidable relapse triggers in the future.
  2. ...make lifestyle modifications to avoid physical/emotional states that lead to relapse (such as avoiding getting overly hungry or tired).
  3. ...identify emotional management issues that you need to work on. For example, if you were angry prior to your relapse and your temper often gets the better of you, then maybe anger management training needs to be a priority.
  4. ...identify maladaptive thinking styles that lead you into high risk situations. For example, black and white thinking – “I already had a drink so my recovery is a failure. I might as well have 20 more.”

If you slip, read on to learn how to limit the damage. Learn what to do after a slip - Don't Let a Slip Turn into a Relapse.

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Page last updated Mar 17, 2014

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