Slip? Relapse? Does it Really Matter?

So do you call it a slip or a relapse?  (Or perhaps a “slip-lapse”?)

Debates continue in Twelve Step rooms as to whether a behavior is a slip or a relapse.  There is an easy way of determining how a problem behavior is categorized.

Remember “Dr. Pepper.”  Or at least remember DRP.  Three words can help you determine whether a behavior is a slip or a relapse.

Duration–How much time did the behavior consume?  Granted this is a subjective differentiation.  If a behavior is of a short duration then it could be considered a slip.  But  a behavior that is of longer duration would be rightly categorized as a relapse.

Repetition–If a behavior is repeated, regardless of how short the behaviors are, they qualify as a relapse.  So a person may have a slip today.  But if the behavior is repeated tomorrow, it is not another slip.  Rather a relapse started today.

Premeditation–And if a behavior is premeditated, even if it is brief and not repeated, then it should be called a relapse.  So if a behavior is anticipated to take place when your spouse is out of time, even if it ends up being of short duration, the behavior should be called a relapse.

So why does it matter?  The importance of defining the behavior is in what type of changes need to be made moving forward.  Does the event in question require entering or increasing therapy?  Should intensive outpatient services be considered?  Or is it time to finally go to an inpatient treatment facility?

And for those who are set on minimizing their behavior by saying, “it was just a slip,” a note of caution needs to be heard.  Slips and relapses are both serious events.  And they require significant changes in recovery to see that the behaviors do not happen again.

What have you learned from a slip or a relapse?  What do you do to make sure they do not happen again?

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Whac-A-Mole Recovery

Have you played the arcade game Whac-A-Mole?  It is somewhat frustrating because it seems like as soon as you can identify one “mole” popping up and begin swinging at it with the mallet, it ducks down and another mole pops up.

Perhaps when you got into recovery, you focused your energy on not pursuing your addictive behaviors.  And you thought, “If I can only live out the day not [using, drinking, pursuing destructive sex, etc.”]  Maybe that plan worked for you–for a while.

But have you seen any evidence of your addiction morphing into a new addiction?  If you have, you realize the Whac-A-Mole theory of recovery does not work.  That is just another manifestation of the “stinking thinking” that resulted in your addiction.

Effective recovery requires recovery to be a lifestyle.  And when recovery is a lifestyle, that means that every decision of life is made against the backdrop of what is healthy for you and what will support your recovery.  The way you spend your time, how you spend your money, the way you relate to people, how you select your friends–every decision you make–is seen in context of whether or not the decision supports good recovery.

Have you adopted a lifestyle of recovery?

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Hope & Freedom Scholarship Recipients, Fall 2011

Hope & Freedom Educational Scholarships have just been awarded for the Fall 2011 semester.

I would like to congratulate the following Hope & Freedom Educational Scholarship recipients for this semester:

  1. Louis T., Glen Allen, VA, studying: Psychology
  2. Alfred M., Houston, TX, studying:  Law
  3. Dedrick M., New Orleans, LA, studying: Religion/Ministry
  4. Brian K., Houston, TX, studying:  Social Work
  5. Sarah M-G., Clovis, CA, studying:  Counseling/Coaching
  6. Carol Ann R., Houston, TX, studying: Social Work

Scholarship recipients submit proof of their enrollment in school for the upcoming semester. These are reviewed by the selection committee who award the scholarships to those deemed most worthy. Monies can be applied to anything related to the educational activity.

Each of these individuals is committed to recovery as a lifestyle. They are actively working recovery and have been vouched for by their sponsors. Be sure and speak a word of congratulations and encouragement to anyone on this list that you know.

Once again, I congratulate each of these outstanding individuals.

Read more about the scholarship program

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Scholarships for Sex Addicts in Recovery

Each year ten $500 Hope & Freedom Educational Scholarships are available for recovering persons. The purpose of the scholarships is to encourage men and women in recovery from sexual addiction to enter college or to continue their education.

Scholarships may be used to pursue education for any undergraduate or graduate degree program at any accredited college or university (including seminary, medical school, or other institution of higher learning).

The scholarships are open to any man or woman who is currently active in SAA, SLAA, SA, or other “S” fellowship.

Additional requirements include:

  • 25 years of age or older.
  • Must be committed to recovery as a lifestyle.
  • Have been in recovery from sexual addiction for a minimum of six months.
  • Must regularly attend a minimum of two 12-step meetings a week in any “S” fellowship.
  • Must have a sponsor and be working on the steps of recovery. (Sponsor must sign application.)

Application deadline:  August 15th and December 15th.  Applications can be found at

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iRecovery App–New Release!

iRecovery 4.0 has just been released for the iPhone and iTouch.  It represents a complete restructuring of the app architecture and a number of new features.

One of the things that has been asked for by users is the ability to define what day of the week to start keeping track of recovery points.  This new version of iRecovery allows users to select the day to start their tracking.

This is especially useful for clients who like to check in with their therapist at the beginning of their session with a review of how many points they have earned over the previous 7 days.  This is also helpful for couples who have a recovery night and then use the Recovery Points System as part of their check in.

Another feature in this version is the ability to sync all of your data with the “cloud.”  This will be particularly helpful in the next couple of weeks when we introduce the iPad version called iRecovery HD as well as a the same HD version that will work on your desktop.

That way you can enter your information on one device and all of your devices will be updated with your recovery information.

Android users, don’t lose heart.  We will be launching the Android version of iRecovery in just a few weeks.

Milton Magness

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Recovery Junk Drawer

Do you have a junk drawer?  Most of us do.  In fact we may have several including a junk closet or two.

Junk drawers are places that collect the things that we don’t know what to do with or that we don’t want to take the time to deal with now.  However, one of the problems with junk drawers is that they often collect much more than we ever intended for them to and they seldom get attention.

What is in your Recovery Junk Drawer?  Recovery junk drawers typically have a collection of behaviors that you want to change but have never gotten around to changing.  Perhaps your recovery junk drawer contains some behaviors that you think are borderline but you have not yet gotten up the courage to change.

What is in your junk drawer?  What are you going to do with those items?  When are you going to take some action?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Milton Magness

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New Recovery Blog

END SHAME!  People in recovery from addiction know a lot about shame.  Shame is part of the engine that drives addiction.

This blog is dedicated to the men and women who are in recovery from any addiction that want a forum through which they can exchange views on recovery.  The discussions may be about what works or does not work in recovery, experiences that have proven to be beneficial, as well as bits of wisdom gleaned while in recovery.

I hope you will follow this blog and add your comments so that others can benefit from your experience, strength, and hope.  And I also hope that you will tell others where they can find this blog.

The blog can be accessed directly at

Milton Magness

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Negative self-talk

I tell my clients that in their recovery journey they will be able to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “You are a good man,” and know from the bottom of their hearts that those words are true. Negative self-talk that has plagued them since childhood will gradually end and be replaced with healing words that they speak to themselves. I believe recovery is an adventure. And in the end, clients have a much fuller, richer, more meaningful life than they would have had if they had never had any compulsive behaviors to conquer.

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Intro Video

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