Relapsing

Katherine - posted on 04/02/2011 ( 53 moms have responded )

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Ok so say you're an alcoholic and you've been clean for 5 years, but one day you decide to smoke pot, does that constitute as a relapse? Why or why not?
My own personal thing here bear with me.

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Dana - posted on 04/03/2011

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I don't think you should beat yourself up over it either but, it wasn't pot right? It was abusing pills.



Either way I think I have to disagree with those of you who are saying pot isn't that big of a deal because it's not addictive. It doesn't matter whether it's addictive or not, it's about an addict slipping back towards anything that puts them in that "state of mind". It's not about physical addiction at all, it's about mental addiction and pot can be mentally addictive to those who are prone to addiction and need "escape".

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Katherine- Give yourself some credit. You have 5 STRONG years clean and you didn't seek out drugs. You didn't just say 'f' it lets get high. You had a legitamate, real health problem, severe pain, and it spiraled out of control. And then what did you do? You owned it. You got a grip on it through the pain and all. You pulled yourself up and got right back on track and that takes an unmeasurable amount of strength. I don't agree that you have to consider this starting over from square one and throw your 5 years sober status to the dogs. You are still 5 years sober from alcohol with one minor complication. So instead of saying 'Hi, I'm Katherine, I have 10 days sober', which is misleading to who you are and the accomplishments you've made, say 'Hi, I'm Katherine and I'm an alcoholic. I have 5 years sober from alcohol but I recently got off track with pain medication after hurting my back....". You have worked so hard and you deserve the credit you've earned. ♥

Carolyn - posted on 04/03/2011

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Yeah that's just it. There are so many different treatment models out there.

Our center, possibly to its own demise, has moved away from strictly abstinence based treatment ( I cringed the day the removed out 12 steps and 12 traditions plaquards from the therapy rooms)

Counselors are no longer permitted to push AA/NA style recovery, if client should choose that as their treatment model, they work with it. But if a personal wants harm reduction, controlled drinking, etc. The staff half to help them reach their goals as best they can.

So relapse and recovery can mean many differents things depending on the program you are working.

Using a mood altering substance as a 12 stepper in AA is a relapse ( AA is accepting of addicts and alcoholics alike, where I have heard NA is not as accepting as alcoholics, atleast in our are from the clients who have mentioned in NA they dont discuss their drinking because of the attitude they received , so probably not the case everywhere, could just be the home group here)

So to someone in NA, a drink might not be a big deal,

but to someone in AA, a joint or a pill does mean relapse when they are following the program to its fullest.

Tara - posted on 04/03/2011

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Nope not at all in my books.
Alcoholism and marijuana are different drugs with different reactions in the body.
No medical professional has every prescribed alcohol to be taken orally as medicine, marijuana is used regularly as such and has been used for over 4000 years.
For those who are religious I saw this t-shirt once.
"Man made alcohol, God made marijuana, who do you trust?" lol, I'm not religious, but it makes sense in that one is natural one is not.
Being an alcoholic means you are addicted to alcohol and the act of drinking.
Smoking pot is not addictive and can be used without the negative side effects normally associated with alcohol consumption, in addition, the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are evident to anyone who has ever had the disease and is recovering, the withdrawal effects from not smoking pot are nil.
I honestly do not think you have relapsed if you smoked some dope while abstaining from drinking alcohol.
Smoke away... it's much better for you and has tons of preventive properties.
pm if you ever want a list of documentaries that show time after time the benefits of pot throughout the humanity.

Carolyn - posted on 04/02/2011

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this one is sticky,

I have known plenty of recovering alcoholics ( i work at a treatment center) who can indulge pot smoking without it turning into a means of coping with everyday life.

I have also know many drug addicts , who once clean can indulge in a drink every now again, without it turning into a means of coping.

So is a recovering heroin addict who has a glass of wine or two on occasion relapsing ?

If that person's sobriety date is for alcohol AND drugs, then yeah the date is out the window.

But smoking a joint 5 years alcohol free, I wouldnt constitute that a relapse.

If that person begins using pot daily or as a means to cope with pleasant as well as unpleasant emotions on a regular basis and other classic symptoms of the addicted person, than I would constitute that a relapse of addiction.

smoking a joint is not a "new addiction" , just like having a beer at a party isnt "an addiction" for those who do occasionally, responsibly and moderately.

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Jennifer - posted on 04/17/2011

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Katherine, I have to admit that I do not agree with the AA philosophy in general, as it seems to be designed by and for white males, but if it works for you, that's great.
I think what's most important about the pot use is your reason for doing it. Your gut will tell you if it's a sign of a problem or not. No matter what, you still did 5 years and counting without a drink. Why can't you have more than one anniversary date - one for drinking and one for other stuff? Have you ever looked into a 16 steps program? It tends to be geared more towards women, but is still abstinence based. For me at a gut level, it feels like a better fit as a woman.

Mrs. - posted on 04/06/2011

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Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Is it so important to define it though? It seems that there is a real shame factor in the word relapse in these posts. That worries me more than the slip up.

Compulsive, addictive behaviour is always worse when you attach guilt and shame to it.

So, maybe it was by NA or AA standards. Does that take away all that you have learned and accomplished - fuck no! Does that mean that you might want to look into the reasons, using the tools you've gained over the years, why you decided to smoke up? It can't hurt. Does that mean that you are starting all the way at the beginning like someone who has never taken the steps you have? Fuck no, again. However, if you want to take those accomplishments away because of a slip up...I'd wonder if perhaps you did it because you felt you didn't deserve the honour of a 5 years sober title? It may not be a coincidence that the slip up happened right before this anniversary.

Of course, I don't know you personally and it may just be that I'm just talking out of my own experience with compulsive behaviours and impulse control issues. I just know that often when I am approaching a big accomplishment, something that I'm proud of...I often sabotage myself because I think I don't deserve it or am afraid that it means I will no longer have the support I had at the beginning of the journey. You know because people might say to you, "Oh, well, you don't need my help..you're 5 years sober."

For me, the reasons are way more important than the behaviour. The behaviour is a symptom. It's so forgivable and for me, at least, it takes nothing away from what you've done. In fact, the how on top of it you are and aware of what is going on shows me that it may just be a lean back into behaviour for the reasons I suggested before.

Oh and hey, you do deserve the title of 5 years sober...even with the slip up...IMO. That is some fucking hard work.

♥TIA♥ - posted on 04/06/2011

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Nope. I think as long as you don't do it again and again and again. I am sober for 2 years had a one time with my dear friend and haven't since. You know the affects and be aware of the past. Don't repeat history. That's all.

Alexis - posted on 04/04/2011

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It depends, do you have an addictive nature and the whole issue isnt just with alcohol but any kind of substance? I would stay away from it all if I had a history of being an alcoholic or drug addict or an addictive nature period.

Katherine - posted on 04/04/2011

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So it's different for everyone. Pot can be a recreational drug for some and a drug for others. I just think drugs in general for me will bring me back to my DOC.

Vegemite - posted on 04/04/2011

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True Carolyn pot was physically the less harder drug to stop but the one that took the longest as it was the one that had the most hold on me mentally and emotionally.

Carolyn - posted on 04/04/2011

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Christine

It is said that pot isnt addictive because there is no physiological addiction.

If you take alcohol, or opiates ( heroine, morphine, oxy's) for example, Your body adapts to having these drugs in your system. The body then needs these drugs to function, and without them, you become physically ill. Withdrawal. You shit , you puke, you shake and tremor, hallucinate, you are in physical pain. Drinking or using again will stop the withdrawals and make you feel physically better. Or you deal with it and your body heals and readjusts to no longer having the drugs.

Marijuana does have a psychological component, as with ANY mood altering drug. You as a person become emotionally and behaviourally dependant on pot to cope with everyday life, but your body does not NEED it. Your personality and your mind does. When someone stops using pot, at the worst, your going to get bitchy and want to smoke, but your not going to shit yourself, break into a seizure, shake so bad you cant eat or drink water because you cant even get the fork or cup to your mouth.

So no , pot is not physically addictive. but you can become dependant on it as any other mood altering substance out there.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/04/2011

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Controlled drinking for an alcoholic? Really?

That's like me having controlled crack. o_0

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Controlled drinking?! What the hell are they doing! I'd say this is in response to the insane level of "let's coddle everyone, because they really can't be held totally responsible for their actions" mentality of today. I had a tremendous amount of respect for AA and the 12 steppers, because they were hard lined in their attitude of YOU take responsibility for YOU.

I can't imagine if my father had dried out before he died and then decided to have a drink, that would've been the end of it. Yeah ok, maybe some people CAN have an occasional drink after their bout with alcoholism, but why on earth would you want to chance it for something that is totally unnecessary to life.

Vegemite - posted on 04/03/2011

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hmmm i don't know. If i was to say yes I'd feel a bit hypocritical. I used to be on the drugs all the time, if it was on offer i took it. I never injected for some reason probably because i used to have a totally irrational fear of needles. My two loves were pot and acid, i know totally "90's lets all go to a rave, but those little squares of paper did it for me. The pot was really my thing though the last thing I did before bed was have some cones and leave some packed so I didn't even have to move before I was stoned. I can't stand this thinking that pot isn't addictive, if it isn't then what was going on with me I was constantly smoking. I was such a regular customer that the grower would give me off cuts to make butter with so i could put it in all my food even butter my toast with it in the mornings and put it on sandwiches to take to school and work. If that's not addicted to something I don't know what is.
I would feel hypocritical because I now drink about three times a week, drinking only 1-2 drinks at a time. So is that just as bad, I don't know but I've been doing this for the 10years since I stopped taking drugs. I just feel alcohol isn't a vice for me and pot could be the same for someone else but it also might turn out to be another vice too.

Good on you for recognizing a problem and dealing with it Katherine.

Carolyn - posted on 04/03/2011

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I dont agree with it either, I think to myself : If these individuals could controll their drinking in the first place, they wouldnt be here.


Then again, I may a little bit skeptical because its not the 20th drink that gets you drunk, its your first.

Also because there is research that even in a person who is 20 years sober, a single drink/drunk can affect the brain chemistry in certain areas returning them to the same "dependant mindset" when their addiction was in full force.
like the flip of a switch and you are warping back in time 20 years.

I dont get it, but if it does help one person , then maybe it can help another.

Katherine - posted on 04/03/2011

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Thank you Carolyn, that really helps with the explanation. They are now trying to do a new method of what they call "controlled" drinking. I so don't agree with it, but then again I don't have to do it :)

Casey - posted on 04/03/2011

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I've never been an addicted to anything so I'm probably not the best person to answer this but I don't think I would class it as a relapse because even though it is still an addictive substance it's different to the original addiction.
However I think if your the kind of person who has an addictive nature your best to steer clear of anything along those lines.

Katherine - posted on 04/03/2011

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IF you are working the program, ANY pill, pot, drink ANYTHING is a relapse, because according to them you MUST stay away from mood altering drugs. Only because it leads you back to your drug of choice. And I can see how that can happen. It's called "stinkin thinkin" lol
I see everyone's points and I like this thread because there are so many differing opinions.

I am also grateful to the people that care and who are supportive.
I guess on one hand pot doesn't seem so bad, but the fact that it's mood altering is the thing. So according to the 12 steps it's a no no. If that's what you're doing.

Sal - posted on 04/03/2011

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cathrine, back to your question, if my dad, had pot at a party once, i;d be stunned but no see it as a relaspe, if he drank i would, he did go to a full on residential rehab centre when i was 15, he went to aas when he finished that for a few years but not for a long time, i doubt he would relaspe, his mond space about it is just so good, he doens't miss drinking, he doens't miss his drinking buddies, he doesn't care if people around him drink it simple isn;t an issue for him, i think the 6 months or so he spent in full time rehab having the councelling and therepy made a huge difference between him and others i have seen who just go through aas and try and go it alone, good luck with it all, realising that you were at a crisis point with the pill is such a positive thing, once you know there is a problem you can fix it, not admitting it is so dangerous..

Dana - posted on 04/03/2011

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WellI just want to say, Katherine, I'm sorry that you're in this position. Like I said before though, don't beat yourself up for it. You recognized that you're abusing pills and you're dealing with it. It's a tough lesson to learn but, I bet you won't be nonchalant about taking pills or anything else again.



Now you know that you have an over all addictive behavior, and that's a good thing to know and understand. You should talk to your doctor about it too and let him know what's going on. That way next time you may need to be prescribed with something, he can work with you on pain management or other options you may have instead or running right to narcotics.



You know we're always here for you. ♥

JuLeah - posted on 04/03/2011

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yup ... in my humble opinion ... using drgs to distance yourself from your feelings .... using drugs and not using the tools of the program you have been working .... alochol and pot do similar things to the brain and it is common for one no longer drinking to go for pot - or the other way around. A person can tell themselves anything they want to justify smoking pot, in fact telling themselves anything they want to justify is part of the addiction disease.
While under the influce of pot, is this person more likely to drink? Will they then blame the pot? .... nah, it's a bad place to go

Tara - posted on 04/03/2011

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I understand those who feel that because an addiction is an addiction, if an alcoholic stops drinking but instead starts spending all day with Mary Jane beside them, they yes they are relapsing into an addicted state of mind.
However I feel that alcoholics and people addicted to other physically addictive substances can use pot to wean themselves off their addictions as well I think addicts can use pot on occasion without a relapse into being an addict. It depends what state of mind that person is in when they decide to have a puff, are they in a panic state where they feel this is the only way to cope, or are they feeling confident and secure in their "abstinence" to alcohol and are just having a puff with an old friend, or to ease headache pain or to feel a little giddy for a change. It is not addictive but can become a crutch for some people who are trying to replace a previous physical addiction.
But all in all I think pot can be used in moderation by just about every adult without any serious ill effects. Addicts and not addicts.

Tara - posted on 04/03/2011

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I understand those who feel that because an addiction is an addiction, if an alcoholic stops drinking but instead starts spending all day with Mary Jane beside them, they yes they are relapsing into an addicted state of mind.
However I feel that alcoholics and people addicted to other physically addictive substances can use pot to wean themselves off their addictions as well I think addicts can use pot on occasion without a relapse into being an addict. It depends what state of mind that person is in when they decide to have a puff, are they in a panic state where they feel this is the only way to cope, or are they feeling confident and secure in their "abstinence" to alcohol and are just having a puff with an old friend, or to ease headache pain or to feel a little giddy for a change. It is not addictive but can become a crutch for some people who are trying to replace a previous physical addiction.
But all in all I think pot can be used in moderation by just about every adult without any serious ill effects. Addicts and not addicts.

Krista - posted on 04/03/2011

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I guess I only consider it a relapse if it's more than a one-off. I've known people who were complete down-and-out alcoholics, were dry for 15 years, and can now have the odd beer, once every couple of months and be ok.

But if you have one, and you immediately want more, then yeah, I guess I would consider that a relapse, because you're relapsing back into that MINDSET.

Sharon - posted on 04/03/2011

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Maybe - maybe not. I lean towards maybe. The alcoholic is looking for something to fill that void that alcohol did.

Jenny - posted on 04/03/2011

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I agree with Tara. I also want to add many addicts, including a few in my family, have used marijuana as a way to wean themselves off harder drugs such as heroin and crack. I don't think you should beat yourself up over it.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/03/2011

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I am actually struggling with this same thing!!! I have been clean from drugs (specifically cocaine) for about 5.5 years. But I still drink, so I've never been classified as "sober". But lately I've been dabbling with the thought of starting to smoke pot again. I hadn't thought about this before because I didn't have time between being pregnant and breastfeeding for 5 years lol.
Here is where I stand; Pot is not addictive. It's hardly a drug lol. It's safer than alcohol.
For me, if I were to go have a white line, then yes, that is most certianly a relapse. But to me, an occasional hoot is no different than an occasional drink.
I think this is where I stand: if I smoke pot, I wouldn't consider it a relapse because of my personal views on it, and the fact that I still drink (occasionally, but I do work in a bar lol)
It's funny because I was thinking about starting a post about this too :P

[deleted account]

Katherine, what's IOP? I wouldn't have called you a dry drunk, because you were aware that you're a recovering alcoholic and worked toward that end. I think you're on the right track, but should still commend yourself for recognizing the slippery slope you were on as quickly as you did and taking steps to put it right. That is an enormous feat not to be overlooked or downplayed just because you have to reset the clock.

So find a good addiction to switch to, since that's an ok thing to do. :-/ Want me to send you some of my chocolate? :-) Just please don't take up smoking.

Bonnie - posted on 04/03/2011

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IMO, it is a relapse if you turn to another substance all the time and become addicted to it. I am thinking this way because for example, let's say that someone is addicted to some sort of drug and then they become clean for 2 years. They go over to visit family for a holiday and have an alcoholic drink. They are celebrating with family and having a drink, not turning to the substance that they once were addicted to.

ME - posted on 04/03/2011

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I've known lots of people who are addicted to alcohol who can smoke occasionally/rarely without becoming addicted. So, not necessarily.

Amanda - posted on 04/03/2011

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Addictions arent quit they just change them. My step mother has been booze free for 15 years, but smokes pot daily. Is she addicted to pot? No she can function without it, but she does enjoy it. Would I rather her smoke a bit of pot when shes stressed, or bored instead of drinking, for sure! So I guess it depends on how you look at pot.

Katherine - posted on 04/03/2011

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But the thing is Sal, he can't have just one drink. Just because you have 20yrs doesn't mean you can reward yourself with a drink. Because one isn't enough and 1,000's too many.







Edit: Does he go to meetings? Does he have a sponsor? I know these are personal questions but trust me you DON'T want him to relapse.

Sal - posted on 04/03/2011

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, if my dad who hasn;t drunk in over 20 years did i'd be pretty stunned but wouldn;t see it as a relapse, if it is a one off thing like a party probally not an issue as i don;t think you can relapse if you were not addicted to the substance, but knowing that acloholics have addictive personalilites i wouldn;t like it to happen on a regular basis, if i reformed smoker gos out and has a smoke once it is no big deal, if they then do it weekly then it is, i see this in that sort of range

Katherine - posted on 04/03/2011

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Ok so this is my take on it:

Any mood-altering drug ANY time even once is a relapse. Because if you do it once chances are you'll do it again.

In the program that's how it works. Although I'm not sure why, as Donna said coffee and cigarettes aren't included lol. Maybe that's all we have left. My relapse was on prescription pain meds. I was abusing them because of my back pain.
At first I didn't recognize it as one because it's not my drug of choice, alcohol is. So although I have 5 years clean from alcohol, I abused something else.
I wanted your opinions and everyone pretty much said the same thing.
It sucks, but I feel like I have a new beginning. I'm doing it right this time. I have a sponsor, I'm going to meetings and I'm going to go to IOP.
I only did that for a few years last time and didn't have a sponsor, I didn't get it then, I do now.
So maybe I would have relapsed any ways because I was a dry drunk.
I think I'm done beating myself up, what's done is done. So now I move FORWARD instead of spinning my wheels.
Thanks for the replies. I still want to see more!

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Bloody CoM posting before I'm done! Sorry.

Regardless of whether you classify it as a relapse or not, you should NEVER forget how far you've come and what you have accomplished.

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I've been thinking about this, given I'm a person with an addictive personality. I think you have to start the clock again. Sucks, I know, but even though it's not one's drug of choice doesn't mean that all other drugs are ok to use.

Anything that alters you, gives you a high or helps you escape reality should be a no-no.

I've always been amused by people I saw at the NA meetings I attended with a friend of mine (ugh) 20 years ago. I went purely for moral support of my friend, but it was educational. The thing I found odd was how almost EVERYONE there were sucking down ciggies one after another, only to be interrupted by their swigging of coffee. In my opinion, they have substituted one drug for another acceptable one rather than get off the drugs. I don't see why that's acceptable, but it is as long as they are working the steps.

Nikki - posted on 04/02/2011

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I think it depends on how the individual defines the anniversary. The day is important because it marks the battle with alcoholism, not just addiction.

Personally I think that 5 years sober is an amazing achievement that shouldn't be tainted by a new addiction.

If anything it's an accomplishment that can be used in a positive way to inspire and drive oneself to becoming healthy in the future.

So no, if I was in this situation I wouldn't change the day, I would start a new day for a new addiction.

[deleted account]

This is tricky....I know alcoholics who smoke pot and have no addiction to it, so I would say, in most cases it would not be considered a "relapse." In that situation, I think the person would keep the original anniversary date for ending their alcohol addiction.

Since the first addiction the person conquered was alcoholism, not drug addiction, if the person does become addicted to drugs after picking up pot, I would consider this a whole new battle with a different opponent. In that situation I think they could have 2 anniversaries--keeping the original for alcoholism, and adopting a new one for ending the drug addiction.

Katherine - posted on 04/02/2011

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So would that person have to start all over? Say their anniversary day is July 25th 2006, would they have to change it to the relapse date?

Katherine - posted on 04/02/2011

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So would that person have to start all over? Say their anniversary day is July 25th 2006, would they have to change it to the relapse date?

Nikki - posted on 04/02/2011

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It is and it isn't, it's obviously not a relapse to alcoholism but it is a relapse to an addiction. I suppose regardless of the substance the underlying concern is the addiction or having an addictive personality, which enables you to relapse.

[deleted account]

I don't have any personal experience w/ this, but I would agree w/ Erin. I don't think a relapse means you can't pick yourself up and start right over w/ sobriety though. I also don't think a relapse is worth beating yourself up over. As the saying goes 'Tomorrow is a new day'.

Ez - posted on 04/02/2011

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Any time an addict turns to a substance for a high or escape, it is a relapse IMO.

Stifler's - posted on 04/02/2011

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I think it depends. If you start smoking pot all the time instead of drinking or it eventually leads you back to drinking it's a relapse.

Felicia - posted on 04/02/2011

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Personally I think so.. I can't do any of that stuff. Eventually that buzz won't be enough and I'll want to go back to my drug of choice.

Felicia - posted on 04/02/2011

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I've been clean for 5 years in May.. no drugs or alcohol... with the help of a 12 step program. And yes I would consider that a relapse. I know for me I can't do anything because I abuse everything! Pot is a form of an escape just like alcohol is.

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