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A Relapse is No Accident

About a year ago we decided to add a new program to help alumni who were struggling with irrational thoughts and unmanageable feelings. These clients were vulnerable to relapse but didn’t necessarily need to go back to either the 30 day or 42 addiction programs we offer here at Sunshine Coast Health Center. The program needed to forego with the standard paperwork that typically accompanies a new admission. And, since the individual would still be abstinent or just at the start of a return to alcohol or drug use, overnight nursing monitoring would not be necessary since the returning client would not be experiencing withdrawal during the alcohol or drug detox process.

So we created a 7-day program for early relapsers. We thought of a name and we decided to call it S.L.I.P. which was short for (Short-term Lapse Intervention Program). We even planned to trademark the name – we thought it was that good.

Then came a visit from Terence T. Gorski last December that changed everything. While Terry understood that we liked the fact that SLIP was a convenient acronym and that “slip” was a common term for a short-term relapse, he let us know in no uncertain terms that the name was definitely a no-go.

Mr. Gorski is well known in addiction treatment circles for his work in relapse prevention. His company, CENAPS Corporation, was in the early stages of certifying Sunshine Coast Health Center as a Center of Excellence for relapse prevention. So, when Terry recommended a new name for the 7 day program, we listened.

Fundamentally, Terry explained, relapse is not an accident. Understanding relapse means understanding that relapse is a process. The relapse process starts long before an individual picks up the first drink or takes his first hit. The relapse process is also made up of many unique, progressive stages . CENAPS calls it the “Relapse Cycle”:

  1. I commit to stabilize
  2. I am cured
  3. I stop growing
  4. My old thinking returns
  5. I have a stress problem
  6. My old behaviour returns
  7. I start isolating
  8. My old people, places, and things return
  9. pain and problems
  10. addictive thinking
  11. I get back into high risk situations and have a loss of control
  12. relapse

This process can repeat itself as an individual re-commits to sobriety and goes through addiction treatment, thus the term “relapse cycle.”

Source: CENAPS Corporation

So, in the end, Sunshine Coast kept the program but changed the name from SLIP to the Rapid Stabilization Program. The new name doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue but, more importantly, doesn’t mislead people into thinking that relapse is something that suddenly, unexpectedly happens like being struck by a bolt of lightning.

For more information on the Rapid Stabilization Program see the Relapse Prevention Programs section.

Daniel Jordan is the General Manager of Sunshine Coast Health Center and hopes that these postings will help  take away some of the mystery often associated with addiction.

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