Slips, Slides and Sobriety: Dealing with Relapse

Slips, Slides and Sobriety: Dealing with Relapse



Use, slips and relapse are expected events in addiction recovery.  Not every person striving for recovery must inevitably relapse, and we would always hope that a client never has to use again.  Yet the reality is, that many clients do slip or experience a full-blown relapse. This workshop examines the dilemmas about what to do when a client in treatment uses or relapses and how to decide when a client is making progress or just “doing time”.

There has been understandable concern about creating a using environment; enabling a person to not experience the negative consequences of use; or sending a message to others seeking recovery that there are no consequences of use in treatment.  This has led to discharge policies that often create dilemmas about how to support the person who has used; prevent a further slide into hopeless, guilty full-blown relapse and find continuing resources for care.  How client relapse affects the counselor and caregiver will be highlighted and strategies provided to help clinicians cope and stay healthily detached.

The danger of dropout from recovery and even potential death if slips and relapse are poorly managed compels the field to re-think how to deal with slips, slides and relapse. This workshop is designed to help counselors improve their understanding about assessment and treatment of continued use, slips, slides and relapse in addiction and how to engage clients as a participant in their treatment, even if court ordered or mandated to care.


Participants will

  1. Identify attitudes, values and dilemmas in traditional addiction treatment concerning how to deal with slips and relapse while in treatment.
  2. Review Models for Change and the interaction between stages of change and slips, continued use or relapse.
  3. Describe approaches to balance the individual’s needs with those of the other clients and the safety of the treatment environment.
  4. Explain the implications for policies, individual and group therapy, a range of services and strategies to deal with slips, continued use or relapse.

Workshop Agenda

9:00 AM         A. Definitions of Terms – Slips, Slides, Continued Use/Problem and Relapse

                        B.  Attitudes and Dilemmas about Slips, Slides, Continued Use, Relapse

C.  Models and Approaches to Deal with Relapse in Treatment

10:30 AM       Break

10:45 AM       D.  Constructs for Relapse/Continued Use/Continued Problem Potential

                        E.  Relapse Precipitants and Common Relapse Warning Signs

                        F.  Stages of Change and the interaction with Relapse

12 Noon          Lunch

1:00 PM          G.  Traditional vs. Alternative approaches to Dealing with Use in Treatment

                        H.  Coping with the Clinician’s Reactions to Relapse

                        I.  Assessing Client Progress – doing treatment or doing time?

2:30 PM          Break

2:45 PM           J. Implications for Treatment Planning and Documentation

                        K.  Administrative, Clinical and Provider Issues in Changing Services

                        L.  Balancing the Needs of the Client, the Community and the Caregiver

4:00 PM           Adjourn