How To Deal With Alcohol Slip Ups

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By Rahul Nag

I Had a "Slip." What Now? You'll hear it all the time: "I haven't had a drink in thirty years."

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote that after having a vision of God, he never took another drink in his life. Who are we to say that isn't true? How do we know, we weren't there!

However, there is one thing that drug and alcohol therapists and people in recovery know: it is extremely rare to find someone in long-term recovery that hasn't had at least one "slip."

Maybe several slips. This is not uncommon and it does not mean that if you slip, you have failed in your recovery.

Let's straighten out some terminology. A "slip" is a brief event when you break your abstinence and have a drink. Or three. You may even go on a binge-drinking spree for a few days.

Finally, you realize that you're making a big mistake, so you stop and re-commit yourself to abstinence. Maybe you found out that having "just one drink" won't work for you; you are unable to drink in moderation.

A "relapse" is a full return to drinking. You pick up right where you left off; daily drinking, health problems, DUI arrests, binge-drinking, relationship and job problems because of your excessive drinking--the whole nightmare.

You don't stop until you are stopped by your spouse, the criminal justice system, your boss, etc. To stop drinking again, you need professional assistance, perhaps even hospitalization for detox and treatment.

Having a slip is not the end of the world; not even close. While slips may not be how you want to behave, they can also be a very valuable source of information about why, when, and where you drink. Instead of beating yourself up about having a slip, here are some positive steps you can take if you have a slip:

  • Learn from the slip. What happened in your life that resulted in you giving in to the urge to drink? Stress? Anger? Sadness? Disappointment? Celebration? Holidays? A social gathering? Look very closely at what you were thinking and feeling right before you slipped. Once you have identified the "trigger," when it happens again you will know that this is a time when you will be tempted to drink. This knowledge is truly power! If you understand the reason(s) for your slip, from now on you will be prepared to face that exact same situation without drinking!

  • Don't allow yourself to feel guilt or shame. You are not perfect; you are going to make some mistakes. Ease up on yourself. You did not fail and you have no reason to feel ashamed. You found out something very important; certain feelings or situations are drinking "triggers" for you.

  • Don't lie about, or cover up, your slip. Tell the truth to your support group, your spouse, your counsellor, whomever. Lying about something tends to mean that you did something wrong or shameful, and this just is not so! Talking about your slip with someone you trust is incredibly helpful in deterring future slips.

  • Re-commit to abstinence today! Right now! Tell yourself "Well, that was interesting. I learned a lot from that slip, and now I'm going back to abstinence. I will be prepared the next time I'm "triggered."

Once you have learned from your slip, let it go. You can't change the past, but you need not repeat it.

Rahul Nag is the London, England based former problem drinker who was drinking too much but gave up and now found he has an even better time than before. He has designed a course on how others can either cut down or give up drinking alcohol without ruining their social life. To get your free 5 part course, please visit http://www.alcoholfreesociallife.com

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