Freelapse isn’t in the dictionary. Relapse, on the other hand, is. A relapse, by dictionary definition, specifically relates to someone suffering from a disease. To relapse means to “suffer deterioration after a period of improvement. As a noun, rather than a verb, relapse means “a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement.” Relapse happens to addicts and alcoholics in recovery who are struggling with the disease of addiction/alcoholism. Relapse is what happens after a “period of improvement” when an addict or alcoholic finds themselves suffering again. The deterioration they find is in drugs and alcohol. Addicts and alcoholics “deteriorate” their sobriety by turning to drugs and alcohol again. The thought processes, the decision making, and ultimately, the use of drugs and alcohol are all part of the “deterioration” of relapse.

Recovery doesn’t have to be temporary. Recovery doesn’t have to be just a period in somebody’s life, either. Recovery can last a lifetime. For the first time, or each time an addict or alcoholic chooses to get sober and stay sober, they can stay sober for the rest of their lives. Emotional relapse can happen when there is a deterioration in one’s emotional state, the many different practices and behaviors learned through recovery and treatment. Chemical relapse is different. Chemical relapse is making the decision to imbibe in drugs and alcohol again.

People throughout the recovery industry struggle to define what is relapse and what isn’t relapse. Many conclude that the intentional decision to consume drugs and alcohol for the sake of getting high, getting drunk, or escaping feelings, constitutes a relapse. Relapse for other mental health conditions or behavioral addictions look a little different.
Relapse isn’t always a choice. Relapse can sometimes happen on accident. A “Freelapse” is a term used by people in recovery to describe those spontaneous situations where an intoxication of some kind happens on accident. Living in recovery does not mean living in isolation away from any drugs and alcohol, ever. Living in recovery means successfully reintegration into society and choosing abstinence in the face of temptation. When a recovering addict or alcoholic goes to parties, social events, gets sick, takes medications- life can happen. Drinks can get confused, for example, or medications can accidentally be taken the wrong way. At a concert, marijuana can be inhaled and cause intoxication without intention. This is called a “freelapse” which is a convoluted term. Indicating that the recovering individual would want to get intoxicated, they “get” to do so without consequence, because they didn’t intend to. For many in recovery, it is a triggering and terrifying experience. It can also be a validating one. Addicts and alcoholics in recovery who have honestly realized they no longer want to get drunk or high don’t like how it feels to consume substances anymore. This is an incredible validation of their progress in their recovery. It is important to check in with a sponsor, counselor, or friend after experience with “freelapse” to check motives and talk through any cravings which could come up.


Cypress Lake Recovery offers residential treatment programs are designed to rejuvenate, restore balance, and help clients find confidence. We provide excellence in addiction treatment. For information, call us today at 409-331-2204.