It is currently not clear, however, how a small indulgence, which itself might not be problematic, escalates into a full-blown binge [29]. Mark’s key responsibilities include handling day-to-day maintenance matters and oversees our Environment of Care management plan in conjunction with Joint Commission and DCF regulations. Mark’s goal is to provide a safe environment where distractions are minimized, and treatment is the primary focus for clients and staff alike. Mark received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Economics from the University of Rhode Island. He is a licensed residential home inspector in the state of Florida and relates his unique experience of analyzing a property and/or housing condition to determining any necessary course of action at our facility.

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The RP model views relapse not as a failure, but as part of the recovery process and an opportunity for learning. Marlatt (1985) describes an abstinence violation effect (AVE) that leads people to respond to any return to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence with despair and a sense of failure. By undermining confidence, these negative thoughts and feelings increase the likelihood that an isolated “lapse” will lead to a full-blown relapse. If, however, individuals view lapses as temporary setbacks or errors in the process of learning a new skill, they can renew their efforts to remain abstinent. A specific process has been described regarding attributions that follow relapse after an extended period of abstinence or moderation.

Ark Behavioral Health

Of note, other SUD treatment approaches that could be adapted to target nonabstinence goals (e.g., contingency management, behavioral activation) are excluded from the current review due to lack of relevant empirical evidence. The RP model proposed by Marlatt and Gordon suggests that both immediate determinants (e.g., high-risk situations, coping skills, outcome expectancies, and the abstinence violation effect) and covert antecedents (e.g., lifestyle factors and urges and cravings) can contribute to relapse. The RP model also incorporates numerous specific and global intervention strategies that allow therapist and client to address each step of the relapse process. Specific interventions include identifying specific high-risk situations for each client and enhancing the client’s skills for coping with those situations, increasing the client’s self-efficacy, eliminating myths regarding alcohol’s effects, managing lapses, and restructuring the client’s perceptions of the relapse process.

Future research must test the effectiveness of nonabstinence treatments for drug use and address barriers to implementation. Unfortunately, there has been little empirical research evaluating this approach among individuals with DUD; evidence of effectiveness comes primarily from observational research. For example, at a large outpatient SUD treatment center in Amsterdam, goal-aligned treatment for drug and alcohol use involves a version of harm reduction psychotherapy that integrates MI and CBT approaches, and focuses on motivational enhancement, self-control training, and relapse prevention (Schippers & Nelissen, 2006).

Moving Forward in Recovery After AVE

Cognitive restructuring can be used to tackle cognitive errors such as the abstinence violation effect. Clients are taught to reframe their perception of lapses, to view them not as failures but as key learning opportunities resulting from an interaction between abstinence violation effect various relapse determinants, both of which can be modified in the future. Amanda Marinelli is a Board Certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) with over 10 years of experience in the field of mental health and substance abuse.

RP has also been used in eating disorders in combination with other interventions such as CBT and problem-solving skills4. The myths related to substance use can be elicited by exploring the outcome expectancies as well as the cultural background of the client. Following this a decisional matrix can be drawn where pros and cons of continuing or abstaining from substance are elicited and clients’ beliefs may be questioned6.

Social learning theory

AVE also involves cognitive dissonance, a distressing experience people go through when their internal thoughts, beliefs, actions, or identities are put in conflict with one another. Helping clients develop positive addictions or substitute indulgences (e.g. jogging, meditation, relaxation, exercise, hobbies, or creative tasks) also help to balance their lifestyle6. Global self-management strategy involves encouraging clients to pursue again those previously satisfying, nondrinking recreational activities. In addition, relaxation training, time management, and having a daily schedule can be used to help clients achieve greater lifestyle balance. (a) When restrained eaters’ diets were broken by consumption of a high-calorie milkshake preload, they subsequently show disinhibited eating (e.g. increased grams of ice-cream consumed) compared to control subjects and restrained eaters who did not drink the milkshake (figure based on data from [30]).

  • In addition to evaluating nonabstinence treatments specifically, researchers could help move the field forward by increased attention to nonabstinence goals more broadly.
  • Notably, these individuals are also most likely to endorse nonabstinence goals (Berglund et al., 2019; Dunn & Strain, 2013; Lozano et al., 2006; Lozano et al., 2015; Mowbray et al., 2013).
  • For example, Bandura, who developed Social Cognitive Theory, posited that perceived choice is key to goal adherence, and that individuals may feel less motivation when goals are imposed by others (Bandura, 1986).

Most scientists who studied SUD treatment believed that abstinence was the only acceptable treatment goal until at least the 1980s (Des Jarlais, 2017). Abstinence rates became the primary outcome for determining SUD treatment effectiveness (Finney, Moyer, & Swearingen, 2003; Kiluk, Fitzmaurice, Strain, & Weiss, 2019; Miller, 1994; Volkow, 2020), a standard which persisted well into the 1990s (Finney et al., 2003). Little attention was given to whether people in abstinence-focused treatments endorsed abstinence goals themselves, or whether treatment could help reduce substance use and related problems for those who did not desire (or were not ready for) abstinence. The AVE was introduced into the substance abuse literature within the context of the “relapse process” (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985, p. 37). Relapse has been variously defined, depending on theoretical orientation, treatment goals, cultural context, and target substance (Miller, 1996; White, 2007). It is, however, most commonly used to refer to a resumption of substance-use behavior after a period of abstinence from substances (Miller, 1996).

Overcoming Abstinence Violation Effect

The term relapse may be used to describe a prolonged return to substance use, whereas lapsemay be used to describe discrete, circumscribed… Positive social support is highly predictive of long-term abstinence rates across several addictive behaviours. Among social variables, the degree of social support available from the most supportive person in the network may be the best predictor of reducing drinking, and the number of supportive relationships also strongly predicts abstinence. Further, the more non-drinking friends a person with an AUD has, the better outcomes tend to be. Negative social support in the form of interpersonal conflict and social pressure to use substances has been related to an increased risk for relapse. Social pressure may be experienced directly, such as peers trying to convince a person to use, or indirectly through modelling (e.g. a friend ordering a drink at dinner) and/or cue exposure.

  • We remember that our urges do not control us, that we have power over our own decisions.
  • These properties of the abstinence violation effect also apply to individuals who do not have a goal to abstain, but instead have a goal to restrict their use within certain self-determined limits.
  • In its original form, RP aims to reduce risk of relapse by teaching participants cognitive and behavioral skills for coping in high-risk situations (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985).
  • Each experience of successful or unsuccessful coping with a high-risk situation builds up a greater or lesser sense of self-efficacy, which determines the future risk of relapse in similar circumstances.
  • For example, based on the dynamic model it is hypothesized that changes in one risk factor (e.g. negative affect) influences changes in drinking behavior and that changes in drinking also influences changes in the risk factors.
  • The myths related to substance use can be elicited by exploring the outcome expectancies as well as the cultural background of the client.