Relapse prevention has a strong theoretical base and makes heavy use of
cognitive behavioral techniques. Relapse prevention also has theoretical
underpinning from social learning theory.
Relapse prevention is empirically based meaning that it is “researchable” and
has been studied extensively. For example, the Freudian view on the
unconscious is logically irrefutable, meaning that it is scientifically
Relapse prevention is an over-arching treatment approach with multiple
options, which makes it highly adaptable.
Relapse prevention is present oriented (not concerned with past drug use,
more interested in what is going on with you NOW) and action oriented.
Relapse prevention is reflective of fundamental human behavior. This means
that it takes into consideration the fact that people will slip, lapse, and
relapse. A slip refers to a minor slip up—like having a beer; a lapse is where
someone moves to a previous stage in in the transtheoretical model; a
relapse is the full resumption of previous use behavior.
The goal of relapse prevention
To provide skills and knowledge that clients can use to identify and deal
effectively with high risk situations, urges and cravings.
Unlearn old behavior patterns and replace them with new ones including lifestyle
changes. How you spend your day is very important to relapse prevention.
Build Coping confidence. This is related to self-efficacy and it is about increasing
people’s confidence in their ability to cope with high risk situations, urges, cravings.
Techniques make use of lots of practice and rehearsal to the point where clients
know them by rote. Essentially this is practicing and rehearsing how to deal with
high risk situations. It gives the client the ability to “try out” new behaviors.
Rehearsal is especially effective for use in low functioning people and those who
lack the capacity for abstract reasoning.
Primary targets for treatment
Behavior ABCs of relapse prevention
The events, thoughts, and emotions leading to a relapse
The relapse behavior, which the person wants to avoid
The positive and negative consequences of the decision to use the relapse
Link between relapse prevention and stages of change
Relapse prevention occurs within the action and maintenance stages. In
Structured Relapse Prevention, there two stages analogous to the action and
maintenance stages: “initiation” and “maintenance.”
Different views on relapse
The disease model views relapse in a binary way; you’re either abstinent or
you are in a state of relapse.
Social Learning Model
Social learning model does not hold such a binary view; it allows for nuances
of quantity/frequency measures. It allows for a person to be in stated
between abstinence and total relapse.
Process of relapse
A state of abstinence is threatened by an urge. If that urge is resisted, abstinence
continues. If that urge is given in to, then a lapse occurs. If the lapse is resisted,
abstinence continues. If the lapse is not resisted, then relapse occurs.
High risk situations and relapse
A high risk si