Sober living

Abstinence Violation Effect AVE

It is essential to understand what individuals with SUD are rejecting when they say they do not need treatment. Is characterized by the goal of abstinence from substance use (Volkow, 2020). In this model, treatment success is defined as achieving and sustaining total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and readiness for treatment is conflated with commitment to abstinence (e.g., Harrell, Trenz, Scherer, Martins, & Latimer, 2013).

Research shows a strong link between ACEs and opioid drug abuse as well as alcoholism. A great deal of research demonstrates that a pile-up of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as trauma, especially when combined with a chaotic childhood, raises the risk for a number of types of dysfunctional behavior later on, of which addiction is only one. The more ACEs children have, the greater the possibility of poor school performance, unemployment, and high-risk health behaviors including smoking and drug use. Some models of addiction highlight the causative role of early life trauma and emotional pain from it. Some people contend that addiction is actually a misguided attempt to address emotional pain.

The Abstinence Violation Approach

Self-efficacy often increases as a result of developing positive addictions, largely caused by the experience of successfully acquiring new skills by performing the activity. Marlatt and Gordon (1985) have proposed that the covert antecedent most strongly related to relapse risk involves the degree of balance in the person’s life between perceived external demands (i.e., “shoulds”) and internally fulfilling or enjoyable activities (i.e., “wants”). In the absence of other non-drinking pleasurable activities, the person may view drinking as the only means of obtaining pleasure or escaping pain. In many cases, initial lapses occur in high-risk situations that are completely unexpected and for which the drinker is often unprepared.

Instead of looking at the slip as an opportunity to grow and learn, a person lets it color the way they think about themselves. An individual who believes they’ve failed and violated their sobriety goals may begin to think that they’re not good enough to be considered a true abstainer. One of the most common mistakes addicts make is focusing on whether they are strong enough to change rather than on specific methods of coping. “You make mistakes and learn, and you don’t give up if you don’t immediately find your balance.” If the bicycle is missing a wheel or is otherwise broken, then it requires fixing — simply willing it to work is not going to help you ride.

A Lapse Vs. A Relapse

More recent versions of RP have included mindfulness-based techniques (Bowen, Chawla, & Marlatt, 2010; Witkiewitz et al., 2014). The RP model has been studied among individuals with both AUD and DUD (especially Cocaine Use Disorder, e.g., Carroll, Rounsaville, & Gawin, 1991); with the largest effect sizes identified in the treatment of AUD (Irvin, Bowers, Dunn, & Wang, 1999). As a newer iteration of RP, Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has a less extensive research base, though it has been tested in samples with a range of SUDs (e.g., Bowen et al., 2009; Bowen et al., 2014; Witkiewitz et al., 2014). Given data demonstrating a clear link between abstinence goals and treatment engagement in a primarily abstinence-based SUD treatment system, it is reasonable to hypothesize that offering nonabstinence treatment would increase overall engagement by appealing to those with nonabstinence goals. Indeed, there is anecdotal evidence that this may be the case; for example, a qualitative study of nonabstinence drug treatment in Denmark described a client saying that he would not have presented to abstinence-only treatment due to his goal of moderate use (Järvinen, 2017). Additionally, in the United Kingdom, where there is greater access to nonabstinence treatment (Rosenberg & Melville, 2005; Rosenberg & Phillips, 2003), the proportion of individuals with opioid use disorder engaged in treatment is more than twice that of the U.S. (60% vs. 28%; Burkinshaw et al., 2017).

These strategies also focus on enhancing the client’s awareness of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions in order to prevent a lapse from escalating into a relapse. The first step in this process is to teach clients the RP model and to give them a “big picture” view of the relapse process. For example, the therapist can use the metaphor of behavior change as a journey that includes both easy and difficult stretches of highway and for which various “road signs” (e.g., “warning signals”) are available to provide guidance. According to this metaphor, learning to anticipate and plan for high-risk situations during recovery from alcoholism is equivalent to having a good road map, a well-equipped tool box, a full tank of gas, and a spare tire in good condition for the journey.

Planning a cognitive behavioural programme

According to AVE research, those who do chose to respond to their behavior with blame and a sense of lost perceived control are more likely to relapse than those who respond by attributing lapse to preventable events and not feeling as though they failed completely. So long as an individual maintains a perceived sense of self-control, he/she has a better chance at evading further lapses. AVE has been studied and supported for the cessation of sex offenses, heroin, marijuana, and other illicit drug use.

In addition to this, booster sessions over at least a 12 month period are advisable to ensure that a safety net is available since gamblers are renown for not recontacting sufficiently hastily when difficulties arise. Recontact contracts can also be useful where it is agreed in advance what the criterion will be for a time where a gambler should recontact the therapist. The guiding strategy here is to ensure that gamblers learn to cope with minor setbacks on their own but are able to recognise more major setbacks before they become fully blown relapses. A verbal or written contract will increase the chance that gamblers will recontact at an appropriate stage and therefore minimise the likelihood of a full blown relapse.

The distinction is critical to make because it influences how people handle their behavior. A relapse is a sustained return to heavy and frequent substance use that existed prior to treatment or the commitment to change. A slipup is a short-lived lapse, often accidental, typically reflecting inadequacy of coping strategies in a high-risk situation. A high-risk situation is defined as a circumstance in which an individual’s attempt to refrain from a particular behaviour is threatened. While analysing high-risk situations the client is asked to generate a list of situations that are low-risk, and to determine what aspects of those situations differentiate them from the high-risk situations.

  • Given low treatment engagement and high rates of health-related harms among individuals who use drugs, combined with evidence of nonabstinence goals among a substantial portion of treatment-seekers, testing nonabstinence treatment for drug use is a clear next step for the field.
  • Several studies have provided theoretical and practical support for the RP model.
  • The RP model has been studied among individuals with both AUD and DUD (especially Cocaine Use Disorder, e.g., Carroll, Rounsaville, & Gawin, 1991); with the largest effect sizes identified in the treatment of AUD (Irvin, Bowers, Dunn, & Wang, 1999).
  • But if they still have drugs left, they decide to go ahead and deplete their supply before quitting again.
  • Urges and cravings precipitated by psychological or environmental stimuli are also important6.
  • These factors can increase a person’s vulnerability to relapse both by increasing his or her exposure to high-risk situations and by decreasing motivation to resist drinking in high-risk situations.

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