When a patient has a lapse, if he stops drinking, or drinking uncontrollably, quite speedily, then the lapse remains as a lapse. But if he continues drinking in this way, then his lapse turns into a relapse. Relapse is not just an event of drinking alcohol again but is a process which starts with thoughts about drinking alcohol, goes on to actual drinking, and then continues so that the patient is drinking at increasing quantity and frequency.
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