Here are a couple of scenarios to put this question in some context. I am at a party where liquor is served and pick up the wrong drink by mistake, take a swallow, realize that there was alcohol in the drink, and drink no more. Or, I am at dinner in a restaurant and discover after eating a slice of cake that it had alcohol in it. Or, I am a devout Catholic, Episcopalian, or member of a religion where wine is an integral part of worship and I partake of a sip of wine, say, once a week at my place of worship. In any of these cases, would the individual need to consider him/herself to have relapsed and need to have a new sobriety date?
My conclusion is that none of these scenarios constitutes a relapse (as long as the individual in the first two scenarios does not have more than one such "mistake", and the religious individual is not attending worship services many times a day). I know of one individual with long term sobriety who is a Catholic and partakes of the host in the form of wine (blood of Christ). I myself do not take the wine at communion; I do not trust my central nervous system (CNS) to recognize the blood of Christ rather than the wine. In regard to the mistake such as picking up the wrong drink or consuming food with alcohol, my view is that such incidents should not happen if the individual maintains a high level of awareness of the dangers of such situations. For example, I always question whether sauces for foods contain alcohol and decline them even though some think the alcohol is removed by cooking. Again I do not trust the reaction of my CNS to the taste or absorption of even minute amounts of alcohol. Similarly, at parties where alcoholic beverages are served, I suggest asking for closed bottles of nonalcoholic drinks or observation of the pouring of the ordered drink, and holding onto the drink to avoid picking up the wrong one.
As always, comments are invited. Jan Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 05/26/2015.