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What is a “freelapse”?

What is a "freelapse"?

We’ve all heard of a relapse, which is defined as going back to a former state or condition, or for addicts and alcoholics – to start using or drinking again. Recently, I’ve heard the term freelapse pretty frequently, though. What is a “freelapse”?

A freelapse is considered to be a free high that does not count as a relapse for those who are clean and sober. Examples of a freelapse include: pre-surgery anesthesia, post-surgery pain medication, basically any type of medically needed use for narcotics, accidental sipping on an alcoholic beverage or eating food that unknowingly will get you stoned or buzzed.

A difference between a relapse and a freelapse is in one situation you are knowingly drinking or drugging and in the other you accidentally do it or it is medically necessary. Honestly, I think going through a freelapse can end up being a hard situation to deal with. The disease of addiction is a mental disease that constantly makes us think that we’re not addicts or alcoholics and plays different tricks on your mind. Some people can end up overthinking a freelapse and wondering if they possibly did it on purpose without realizing or there is even a chance that it can start the obsession and craving all over again.

When it comes to deciding whether what you did is a relapse or a freelapse, I think it is best to talk to your supports and sponsor. They can usually see the situation from a less emotional and personal stance and give you the facts of it all. Yes, you accidentally sipped alcohol or took a painkiller you thought was aspirin but it wasn’t intentional. In my opinion, as long as you are open about it and share it with others and are honest with yourself, you can get through a freelapse and continue in your sobriety. At the end of the day I think it comes down to being between you and your higher power on whether it is a relapse or freelapse.

The biggest issue I see with a freelapse is sometimes it can send someone into a full on relapse. I know for me, I’m not sure if I could handle accidentally taking a pain pill or a sip of wine. I think the best solution after a freelapse is to really jump into the program and go to meetings. If I’m feeling down, it always helps to call a friend in the program or reach out to a new girl. I was taught in the beginning of my sobriety that when things are going wrong, the best thing to do is help someone. It takes your mind off of you and gets you out of your own head and you’re making a difference for someone else.

A good way to avoid having to deal with a freelapse is staying around people in the program who don’t drink and don’t do drugs. In all reality, you’re going to eventually be around people who aren’t in sobriety and there is a chance freelapse can happen. I recommend just being cautious when around people you know drink or may do drugs and stay aware so that you don’t have to go through a freelapse yourself! If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-888-672-4435.

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