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The Importance of Relapse Prevention Coursework

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Updated: May 17th, 2019

Introduction

Relapse is widely defined as the failure to maintain any behavioral change in an individual. Therefore, relapse occurs in various sets of behaviors such as alcoholism, smoking, overeating, and sexual malpractices among others (The National Psychologist, 2000, para. 1-2).

On the other hand, Relapse Prevention (RP) entails a set of procedures designed to teach recovering patients and their families various self-management practices during the recovery period, which in turn enable them to identify and prevent relapse warning signs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996, part 2 of 3).

As a result, considering that relapse is a major challenge in the management and treatment of all forms of substance abuse disorders and other social vices, there is the need to recognize and manage the underlying psychological components regarding these maladaptive behaviors.

This forms the basis for the Relapse Prevention approach proposed by Marlatt and Gordon in their cognitive-behavioral model. This paper will summarize the effectiveness of the Relapse Prevention approach besides recommending some of the strategies and methods, which can be used by counselors in helping their clients.

The importance of Relapse Prevention

The psychological treatment model (Relapse Treatment Model) was designed with the aim of augmenting other treatment approaches regarding various addictive behaviors including smoking, overeating, and drug/substance abuse (Dowden, Antonowicz, & Andrews, 2003, p. 516).

In various programs entailing relapse prevention, the treating professionals help their clients in identifying potentially risky situations besides teaching them the strategies useful in avoiding habitual coping styles. Furthermore, various professionals help their clients in terms of promoting their self-efficacy, which plays a major role in preparing them to deal with high-risk situations.

Therefore, over the years, RP techniques have been widely applied in helping sexual and substance-abusing offenders. Conversely, other researchers have shown the efficacy of relapse prevention in the treatment and management of general offender populations (Dowden et al., 2003, p. 516; Irvin, Bowers, Dunn, & Wang, 1999, pp. 563-565).

Despite that the original RP model was designed for treatment maintenance purposes, it is now finding various applications as a stand-alone behavioral management strategy.

Here, besides the original purpose of augmenting treatment services, RP services have been used in the treatment of sexual offenders whereby the treating professionals help their clients to develop anger management strategies besides providing them with information on sexual education and helping the victims in different contexts (Dowden et al., 2003, pp. 516-517).

Overall, it is important to note that the effectiveness of the RP treatment approach is based on the finding that most maladaptive behaviors such as substance abuse, drinking, smoking, and even gambling follow through similar behavioral, affective, and mental processes (pathways). As a result, this model is very effective in the treatment of all types of patients and clients.

Conclusions

Taking note of the importance of Relapse Prevention as elaborated in the foregoing discussions, it is imperative that counselors should devise various methods proposed under the RP model to help their clients to maintain sobriety and achieve complete recovery.

Some of the methods proposed under the Relapse Prevention Therapy include helping the clients to develop various self-management skills such as self-regulation, self-assessment, conscious understanding of oneself and others, warning sign identification, warning sign management, recovery planning, and inventory training.

On the other hand, it is important for counselors to provide their clients with general information regarding relapse education besides involving the significant others (family and friends) in the treatment process. Most importantly, the client should be taught how to update the relapse prevention plan in order to increase the chances of maintenance and sobriety (U.S. Department of health and Human Services, 1996, part 2 of 3).

References

Dowden, C., Antonowicz, D., & Andrews, D.A. (2003). The effectiveness of relapse prevention with offenders: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47(5), 516-528.

Irvin, J.E., Bowers, C.A., Dunn, M.E., & Wang, M.C. (1999). Efficacy of relapse prevention: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 563-570.

The National Psychologist. (2000). Relapse prevention therapy: A cognitive-behavioral approach. The National Psychologist. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1996). Counselor’s manual for relapse prevention with chemically dependent criminal offenders. Rockville, MD: Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) Series 19. Web.

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