Relapse or Slip?



This is so hard for me to write because I just recently posted how my husband has been doing so well in his recovery. I just found pain pills in his work bag this morning. It’s been a little over 3 years since my husband has used and I am trying to be strong. I know recovery is not a linear journey and there are going to be some slips along the way. I saw the prescription was for 12 pills about 3 months ago and there were only 3 left.

I should have said something right when I saw them but he was getting ready to leave for work and I needed to process and cool down before I said anything. I feel lied to and angry and don’t even know how I want to approach this conversation. Is this a full-on relapse? Is this a slip? He’s supposedly taking suboxone too but I don’t know if he is even doing that anymore. I want to attempt approaching this conversation from love and not from anger so I am trying to calm down but just need some advice.


Hi ~
I don’t have an answer for you but just want you to know that I feel for you and completely understand your frustration. Try to take some time for yourself and don’t let all of the thoughts and emotions take over. You’ve got this.


Hi @Selfcare31 :revolving_hearts: thanks for sharing this with us, and like you said so hard when things have been going so well - definitely don’t lose sight of that. Progress matters and we want to think of it with the goal of catching before things spiral too far down and keep working on the upward momentum. When slips happen it’s useful to think of them as an indication that something is not working and to see what more support is needed and what can be learned from this.

I think you are doing so well to take some space and catch your breath and your thoughts before entering the conversation with him. I’d suggest leading with curiosity when you do talk with him - seek to understand what is going on with him and why things may have slipped as well as any ideas he has to feel better/options for support.

We’re here for you, please keep us posted with how you get on and what you find to work / or not work so well so we can all learn along with you. You’re definitely not alone in this challenging time.

And just because I should say it in case it’s useful for you now, and you’re not aware of it, absolutely no pressure! For more communication skill specifics - we do have a Group Course starting this coming Tuesday 15th :slight_smile: and also currently have the opportunity for free support through our


So nice @sky thanks for sharing those kind words of support. Definitely not alone in this :revolving_hearts:


Thank you so much @Jane and @sky for the encouraging words. I had a conversation with him and he said it was from a dental surgery a few months ago, which does check out. He said he took a few for pain but they didn’t work anyways (which was a bit concerning to hear) and he forgot about them so they’ve just been sitting in his bag. He is supposedly still taking suboxone which does cancel out the effect of a high. It’s still worrying that he even took them in the first place.

He offered immediately to drug test to ease my mind so we did and he is clean. I am choosing to just trust him in this moment but be ready to have another conversation if needed. I like the advice of approaching with curiosity because I definitely don’t want him to feel like he is being accused. He apologized for not being honest and upfront about picking up that prescription. I asked him to keep an open line of communication as much as possible and he agreed.

Compared to previous experiences when confronting use, this is still progress for sure! It’s encouraging to continue looking at it from that perspective since recovery is not ever a linear, perfect journey.


@Selfcare31 The way the whole situation ended up panning out all sounds like positive progress. You were able to communicate with openness, curiosity, and compassion. He was honest immediately and took a drug test to confirm. And you’ve made plans to be more transparent going forward. These fears of slips will continue to happen as long as we’re in relationships where addiction has been present. It never truly goes away, but our response is what matters.

I’m actually surprised that he was prescribed pain meds in the first place if he’s taking suboxone. My husband was in a similar situation - he had dental surgery and his doctor would not prescribe pain meds to him. Due to the pain, but mostly due to frustration I’m guessing, he ended up slipping and using heroin. Would he have slipped if they gave him pain meds? Not sure. But keeping them from him certainly didn’t help. I recently read an article about the use of algorithms by the US healthcare system to detect opioid abuse, and how they are flawed. It’s a long read but a good one, if you’re interested. Here’s a quote that stood out to me:

"…throughout the overdose crisis, policymakers have focused relentlessly on reducing medical opioid use. And by that metric, they’ve been overwhelmingly successful: Prescribing has been more than halved. And yet 2020 saw the largest number of US overdose deaths—93,000—on record, a stunning 29 percent increase from the year before.

Moreover, even among people with known addiction, there is little evidence that avoiding appropriate medical opioid use will, by itself, protect them. ‘I think undertreated pain in someone with a history of addiction is every bit, if not more, of a risk factor for relapse,’ says Wakeman. She calls for better monitoring and support, not obligatory opioid denial."

Sorry for going on a bit of a tangent, but it just got me thinking about the use of pain meds and if they’re ever safe for someone who has suffered from opioid addiction. I don’t have the answer and, like most things relating to addiction and recovery, there likely isn’t a clear one.


Thank you @momentsandlight this is super helpful especially hearing your perspective with your husband since I know we have such similar situations. I’m definitely going to check out that article. It helps me to read evidence-based studies. I think the idea that keeping pain meds away isn’t entirely the answer because at the end of the day if the addict wants something, they will get it. I was also surprised his dentist prescribed pain meds in the first place because he was honest with them about his history with addiction (or maybe he wasn’t, who knows).

So grateful for this community to have a place to go when I’m feeling alone in my situation. After all these years, it’s still a challenge to talk to my current circle of friends since they don’t really understand. :heart:


Checking in with you today @Selfcare31. How are things going since you and your husband talked?


Thanks for checking in! Things are going well. I have been making it a point to check in with my husband and just have honest conversations about future plans, our mood, etc. as a way to make it more normal to communicate what we’re feeling. Still choosing to trust him and letting go control. :heart: