How do I handle a loved ones slip?


I’m pretty disappointed tonight. My S/O has been sober for four months. In fact we celebrated 4 months on Sunday. Tonight he had a slip. I knew he was drinking based on our phone conversation. I can usually tell the minute he starts. To prove it to myself, I went to his apartment. When I got there after an hour of talking he almost had me convinced he wasn’t. There were no bottles or glasses and He still smokes weed so he had me convinced he was just stoned. Something still felt fishy, but there was no visible proof. But I leaned in to kiss him and I thought I smelled it. I immediately said something. I’m not sure if it was the anxiety of me leaning over him, guilt, or legit he can’t handle even a drop anymore, but all of the sudden he admitted that he had been drinking and ran to the trash to throw up. His body seems to reject pretty quickly over the last year or so. He Admitted he had bought a half pint. I just started crying. He said he had a lapse in judgement tonight and this is not what he wants. I guess I’m kind of lost on how to handle this. I absolutely cannot have myself around him again if he decides to relapse. I’m overwhelmed with sadness of possibly losing him again to this disease. We have had the best 4 months ever. I’m forever grateful for the time, but I’m so scared right now that he will relapse due to this slip. I’m sure I didn’t help with my crying and plethora of questions. I did say to him that I cannot be with him if he chooses to go back to drinking. I’m sure my nagging And crying made him feel even worse about himself, but I was in shock and just so sad. I honestly did not see this one coming. Usually I do. He did bring up that he has some Unresolved feelings about how our relationship began. My ex husband and him were friends. We all used to party together. In some ways, he blames himself for the breakdown of my marriage. Although our relationship did play a roll, it certainly was not the sole cause of the breakdown of my marriage. I know he’s coming up in step 4 and that’s a tough one with him. Tonight’s AA topic was grief and loss. This has always been a tough subject for him. I guess I’m not sure what I can do to help him. What can I say tomorrow when I talk to him? How can encourage him to use this as an opportunity to learn from? Should I believe what he said, about not wantIng this? Should I believe him when he said it was just a lapse in judgement? Should I believe him when he said he really does want sobriety? I guess that’s the hardest part for me to understand about his disease. He literally just bought a car this week and went golfing with his AA guys. Why would he do this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. And I need lots of positive vibes and prayers sent right now that this will only be a small slip. How can I help him while staying firm in my expectations?


I’m so sorry to hear this @Jess. I know how much you enjoyed the sober time together and how worried you were about a slip happening. What’s happened in the last few days?

I’d be curious to know what he’s said about what happened. About how he feels about what lead up to it and what he thinks will be the next step is. I wonder what he says he learned from this? I think having made it four months does show that he is working towards recovery and I’m sure that will be easier for you to believe once you see how he handles this slip. But now you both have this foundation, you have a four-month long reference point on what sobriety looks and feels like in your relationship and hopefully he has some better insight into what made those months successful and factors that contributed to a slip.
I hope that your self-care is something you’re able to focus on. I know under this kind of stress, it can be hard to remember and to actually prioritize our own well-being, but hopefully that is something you can spend some time on. Sending lots of love and positive vibes your way.


I’m glad to hear that he’s had three sober days since his slip. I think that’s kind of huge! I know it can be really easy to throw in the towel completely after a slip and it sounds like that’s not the case. I always worry about the bad things bringing on a relapse, but I think good things can be a trigger too, which is hard to deal with.

Maybe it would be helpful to ask him what his plan is moving forward, so that you can support him, but also so that he is being aware of things that might trigger the desire to drink. I have A LOT of opinions about what my husband should do, but he never seems to see how helpful that is (:woman_shrugging:), but those conversations go better when he’s leading the planning and I can just be on board.

I’ve been using the free version of the meditation app insight timer and the meditations by Sarah Blondin are just beautiful. I highly recommend if you’re using meditation for self-care. I’ve also been trying out Glo yoga online and they have classes specifically for emotional support which have been really helpful. Anything to help get me out of my head is a blessing.

My husband is doing well. I’ve been concerned about the lack of availability of in-person meetings and his hesitance to do online ones, but fingers crossed, he’ll be able to get back to in-person meetings soon.


When I asked him about it, he said it was a combo of things. But he also said he thinks it was a pretty mindless move which I also find to be so scary. He kind of just impulsively went up to the liquor store. He attributes it to a combo of some emotional stuff that’s tough to handle and everything also going so well (so why not?). He calls it a case of the fuck it’s. He has a lot of big things happening soon. He’s working on getting his license. He just bought a car and was working on it all day. There’s just a lot of big changes coming. He’s been drinking and running for 30 years, so he said it’s not always easy for him. He did say it was a reminder that his disease is still very much present. He thinks it was a good reminder that nothing good comes from drinking (I was pissed and upset, he got sick). And that was from only a 1/2 pint! He called his sponsor the next day. He attended an AA meeting on Thursday. He golfed again with the AA guys. He has remained sober since, but of course now my anxiety is heightened again. I feel like the one meeting wasn’t enough. I feel like if anything he should be upping his recovery plan a bit. But I feel like it’s not my place to tell him what to do in that regard.

It’s tough. I’m scared. He’s literally my best friend on the planet. When he drinks, I lose my best friend every time. I get so lonely when he’s gone. But I know in my heart, I can’t be around him when he’s drinking. So I’m really trying to wrap my head around how I’ll find peace and happiness if he chooses to drink again. I’m trying to live in the present. He’s sober today, and I’m grateful for that. But this really made me see the reality of his disease. His disease is not gone. It feels like it’s always there ready to rear it’s ugly head. I’m not sure I can handle another relapse. It’s mentally draining And tragic every time.

As far as self care. I will say running over there to prove myself right probably wasn’t the best idea, but he said it was probably a good consequence for him. Once I found out he was drinking I did say that I will no longer be able to be with him if he’s drinking. He said he wants to be with me and he does not want to drink. He said he really does want recovery. Should I believe this? I feel like it’s sincere, but sometimes my mind tells me otherwise. I’m trying my best to carry on with my life and not overthink things, but it’s very hard. My daughter and I have been watching our show together and hanging out. Her and I did go to his house to paint Thursday too which was nice. I’ve been trying to keep busy with work stuff. Last night him and I wAtched a movie and grabbed dinner together. So I’m trying be grateful for three more sober days where we could enjoy each other. Self care is not always easy for me, because my mind never stops. Any suggestions?

Thank you so much for responding. I also need to remind myself that slips and relapse are often a part of recovery. I just don’t want to see him go through the revolving door again like he always did in the past. This four months is his third longest stint at staying sober. I’m very proud, but his history is not the greatest.

How’s your husband doing?


I’m so sorry to hear about this @Jess. I know how far you and your partner have come. And I hope you know that this slip doesn’t erase any of that hard work.

This is so hard. I’ve had to come to terms with this as well. I also try to remind myself that with every slip, we have the opportunity to grow stronger. And it looks like your partner is taking that opportunity. It’s also an opportunity for him to look closer at his recovery and maybe try to understand where he needs more work/support.

Yes, slips and relapse happen. What’s most important is what comes after. Change is hard for anyone. Looking at myself and things that I’m trying to change about myself has helped me empathize with my husband’s struggle. Slips
don’t mean failure. They don’t mean we’ll never change or recover. They just mean we’re human.

Sending you love. :pray:t4::sparkles:


Thank you so much for everyone’s responses. My life is a bit complicated at times and it definitely helps to hear from people who understand what it’s like to love an addict.

on top of it all…as I face the threat of losing my best friend to a relapse, my soon to be ex-husband’s addictions have been showing their true colors during this pandemic. He still stays with me until he can afford to find a place. He has been partying at least twice a week where he doesn’t come home until at least 3pm the next day. In those nights he’s off drinking and doing god knows what kind of drugs. Recently he got abusive to me where I almost had to call the cops when he was blacked out on alcohol and coke. frankly I’m concerned as to the example he is showing my 14 year old son and 9 year old daughter. I’m over here completely sober, alone in quarantine, feeling so down about what drugs and alcohol do to people. All the while I’m trying to navigate being a good mom to my daughter, trying to get my 14 year old to stop playing video games, while working as a teacher from home. And my dog is suffering from an eye tumor. I guess that’s life, but I sometimes question why I put myself into these relationships. All I want in life is a companion who makes me feel safe, peaceful, secure. I get that when my current S/O is sober, but the threat Of that going away feels so real at the moment. I’ve never really been alone and it scares me, but maybe that’s what I need. I don’t want to give up on these people, but I can’t take much more of the ups and downs. I sometimes fall asleep with a pit in my stomach and wake up with a pit in my stomach. I know I’ve been through worse, but sometimes I question whether the chaos will ever come to an end. Will I ever find true peace in life? I do know a lot of this has to come from within myself and as I get better at setting boundaries, things have improved to some degree.

I also can’t wait until this quarantine stuff is over. I miss my outlets: My friends, job, family, shopping, etc. Thank you for all the great ideas for meditation and self-care. I will definitely look into these things.

On a positive note, it now been a week since his slip and he’s still sober. So today, I am grateful for this and that we’ve had another week of peace and enjoyment in one another. My ex came home at noon on Wednesday. I didn’t question where he was, and he did manage to take a bike ride with the kids and so I’m grateful for that too. He has been trying to not drink or be on drugs around the kids or me. I hope one day, he can find some peace without substances. I really do believe the universe has a plan for all of us.


He relapsed. I’m devastated. He made it four months this time. The third longest he’s accomplished. I’m proud of that, but also feeling hopeless at the same time. He did try for a week after the initial slip. I went there tonight as I had suspicions. He was extremely verbally abusive. No matter how many times it happens it’s always horribly devastating to me. Not sure why I always sit there and take the abuse. He is a completely different person sober vs. drunk. Sober he is gentle, funny, kind, loving, my best friend. Drunk he is very mean, reckless, angry, and unpredictable. I sobbed my eyes out. He was trying to drive his new car because I wouldn’t take him to the liquor store. I took the keys and blocked him on messenger. He’s not ready for a car. At the time taking the keys seemed like the right thing to do. And frankly, I’m scared shitless right now. That car was sold to him by one of his AA guys. The title has not been changed over due to the pandemic. This is really upsetting. Lord knows what he’ll do. When he’s drunk, he’s completely insane. Tonight I have the keys. Not sure what I’ll do when he asks for them back. :sob: any suggestions? @momentsandlight


He’s fighting so hard today. He stayed sober all day. He went to his work to meet with his boss, we talked, he golfed with his family. I sobbed again. He says he wants to be sober. He said he’s having a hard time dealing with emotions which is why he turns to the bottle. He says he wants to learn And deal with how to handle emotions better. It’s always so tough. I know when he says he wants to be sober, he means it. But it’s also hard to believe him when he’s lying and sneaking. This damn addiction just takes over his mind. It’s sooo hard to not listen to the things he says when he’s drunk. He’s so mean. Today, he’s filled with a lot of shame and disappointment, but he’s fighting. Today, I’m grateful that he’s sober today, but I’m depressed and scared and as always trying to be the strong one.


I am so, so sorry @Jess. I know this is such a hard time for you. For both of you. This has got to be such an emotional roller coaster for you both. I think it’s great that you’re acknowledging all the steps he’s taking… it can be easy to catastrophize these things, but losing sight of the progress you’ve both made is defeating for you both. Just being able to take away knowledge about triggers can be helpful in planning for the future and identifying times when support needs to be ramped up.

I read this caption on Laura McKowen’s IG this week and it made me think of those of us supporting our loved ones. She talks about her brother being a big supporter of hers and an experience they had at a recent event.

“Someone asked my brother if he was surprised about how far I’ve come. He said no. He said when shit was sideways with me and I was fucking up all over the place he wasn’t upset with me because of how I was acting, he was upset because he knew who I really was. Which is who I am today. In his words, “I wasn’t mad because I was thinking you were a piece of shit. I was mad because I knew you weren’t.” He would deny that he did anything to get me here. And that’s the thing—nobody does it for us, but we also don’t do it alone. He was just a Believer. He believed in me, even when all the evidence told a much different story.”

I just love this message. No, we can’t do it for them. But we can hold hope for them when they don’t it have yet themselves. We can love them when they feel unlovable. We can acknowledge their strengths when they feel like they’re failing. We can believe in them.

And we can also take care of ourselves in the process so that we are able to keep believing in the worst of times and still show up in a healthy way.

Sending you lots of love and peace, @Jess :heart:


Keep holding on to your truth, @Jess. When all the lies and the unknowns have you feeling stuck, lost, confused, overwhelmed, scared, lonely - look deep for what you know to be true, and hold on to that. Trust that. :pray:t4::sparkles:


Thank you so much ladies! He’s sober again today. Thank the universe. He went to another meeting last night. I know he wants it so bad, but his addictive brain is fighting him tooth and nail right now. @Tlee22 Boy did I need that quote today. That’s exactly how I feel. I will keep coming back to it. Thank you so much. I’ll never give up hope for him.


Yeah so he’s really up and down with the drinking right now. He’s trying, but not trying if that makes sense. Like he says he wants to be sober, he’s gone to a couple meetings this week, and today he’s golfing again with his AA buddies. But then in between all that, he’s been sneaking some drinks. I guess the worst part but also the best part was seeing the hope of what could be. But it’s sad, because it always seems so unattainable long term. Last year he made it three months. This year four. So maybe next time it will be five? :woman_shrugging:t2: My question is, do I believe him? Does he mean it when he says he wants this? I guess action is what I need to believe at this point. Problem is that right now his actions are fighting against each other. And the lies and manipulation. I hate that part of addiction. I have to remember it’s the addiction talking. The other thing is, he’s not too far off from a full blown relapse. It never takes him long unfortunately. I’m again powerless over the alcoholic in my life.


@Tlee22 I needed to hear that last paragraph. It brought tears to my eyes because I agree with you. I believe he wants it too. He reiterated that tonight as he threw up and tossed and turned on the couch. It’s crazy how quickly he becomes sick these days. Almost like his body can no longer tolerate it. He said he really wants to be sober. He wants a simple life. He said he enjoys his new found hobbies from being sober. He enjoys AA and the fellowship he’s found in it. He said he could name a hundred positive things he’s experienced from sobriety. When I asked him to name a positive from being drunk, he said not one damn thing. I cried again tonight. I told him how lonely I feel when he’s drinking. He said he hates seeing me upset and he never wants me to feel lonely. I believe him. I wish I could get into his brain so I could understand what’s going on when he’s saying one thing, but doing another. He said he doesn’t even quite understand it. But I really do believe him that he wants to change. Maybe I’ll write him a letter like you did. I think we often forget all the work we’ve both done.


I can imagine that it feels like baby steps but you’re acknowledging his progress here and that’s so encouraging. Last year I wrote a letter to my husband before he had no more than a week sober and outlined every accomplishment he made in the prior year to quit drinking. They ranged from having calls with a recovery coach to spending an anniversary weekend sober. When I looked at the list, I was amazed at how much effort he had already put in, even though at first glance or for an outsider it might not be the picture of “success.” The reality is, every step on that page, no matter how small, brought him to the point where he was ready for treatment. And when I showed it to him, he felt less shame because there was proof of the work of he had done already. It helped to step back and look at the big picture, which is so hard to do when you’re in the thick of it and it feels like nothing will ever change.

I don’t feel like I have any answers, of course, but I do believe that no one chooses to struggle. When he says he wants to be sober, when anyone says that, I believe them. From everyone I know that has struggled with addiction, I’ve heard the same thing. They aren’t doing it because it’s fun anymore or a choice, it’s way past that point. But it takes time and a whole lot of work for the brain to heal to allow their actions to be in alignment.

Hugs to you :heart:


As I am still fairly new to all of this with only 2 years of seeking help for being with an addict, there are a few things that have helped during slip ups. Though, from my post this morning, none of it is every easy and each slip is different.
What has helped my partner realize that he needs help is when I tell him that he can no longer just be honest with me, he needs to let his parents and close friends know when he relapses. This really puts into perspective for him that he has more people on his side and that there is more push to keep recovering, that it’s not just coming from me.
When he says that he wants to be sober, that every time he uses or drinks, it makes him physically sick and full of guilt, I believe him that he wants help. But that that help may be saught after time and time again. For someone who was 10 years clean, a relapse is depressing for us, but believe your partner when he says he wants to be sober because it is the truth.
As much as the AA groups help him, he needs to be honest with them and everyone in his life he he truly wants a longer recovery.
This will be lifelong for those of us who choose to stay. Try to not think of it as how many months has he been sober and keeping a tally. Celebrate those months, but remember that this all takes one day at a time. Celebrate each day h.e’s sober and remember that none of this is about you. He doesn’t do this because of you, he doesn’t do this to hurt you. He is hurting himself and hurting from his own guilt and shame. There is still hope every single day he is sober. And there is still hope there every time he says he wants to be sober. The little wins are the things to be celebrated just as much as the long months of sobriety.
Also, remember that you deserve more than verbal abuse! Keep to your boundaries and step away from the addict when it gets to that point. You can’t help them then, so help yourself or remove yourself from that moment.


Thank you so much @jlynnmarch…I needed to hear this today. I agree. I told him he needs to start opening up to his AA friends about these slips. He also struggles with calling someone when he’s having cravings.

He’s sober and at work today. Every day sober is a blessing to me. Sometimes it’s one minute or second at a time.