A “Slippery Slope” is addiction recovery circles refers to any behavior or situation that may lead to relapse. Just what constitutes a slippery slope for someone in recovery? Anything that can trigger relapse. While each person is unique and has their own specific relapse triggers, there are several common relapse triggers that everyone in recovery would do well to avoid.


Perhaps the most well-known “slippery slopes” are the four parts of the acronym H.A.L.T. Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness can each set a person in recovery on the downward slope to relapse.

We list a few more common relapse triggers below:

  1. Relying just on oneself. Alcoholics and addicts can’t do it alone. Experience shows that self-reliance is not enough to beat the disease. A support group like AA is built on this principle. Surrounding yourself with people who have been successful in long-term recovery is powerful–and good insurance against the dreaded slippery slope.
  2. Keeping the same playmates and playgrounds. If someone in recovery continues to spend time with people who are still using, in the locations where they used to use, it’s all too easy to slip up and join in on the substance use. Instead, build a community with the people you meet in recovery who are successful without using a mind-altering chemical. Recovery requires big changes: changing playmates and playgrounds is the second big change after quitting substance use.
  3. Getting involved with Mr. or Ms. Right romantically before you have your feet solidly in recovery. The first year of recovery requires focus on one’s own health and sobriety. Being swept away in a passionate love affair will definitely lower the motivation to develop new habits of recovery. And if there is a break-up, chances are very good that substances may ease the pain. It’s better wait until you have a solid ground in recovery before trying to handle the sometimes stormy waters of relationship.

Many people in recovery believe they can go anywhere and be with anyone if they are spiritually fit. This is probably true, but it takes time to get “fit.” Life can be a slippery slope the first year or so, and most folks will suggest that newcomers and old-timers alike be very careful and protective of their sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling, get help now. You may contact us anytime. We’re here to help.