3. Supporting your Family Member’s Recovery

What to remember about lapses and relapses


There is a distinction between a “lapse” and a “relapse.” 

Lapses are temporary slips, such as having one drink but deciding to stop. 

Relapses are returns to more problematic substance use, such as binging on cocaine for three days after a period of abstinence. Relapse usually occurs when a person is triggered by emotions, social pressures, interpersonal problems, cravings and/or places or people associated with substance use. People with concurrent disorders have higher rates of relapse than those with a single substance use or mental disorder alone.