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What Is The Abstinence Violation Effect?

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It hypothesizes that following recovery, mild states of depression can reactivate depressogenic cycles of cognitive processing similar to those found during a major depressive episode. Teasdale et al. suggest that preventive interventions such as cognitive therapy operate by changing the patterns of cognitive processing that become active in states of mild negative affect preceding a full relapse into major depression. They suggest that the redeployment of attention utilized in stress-reduction procedures based on the techniques of mindfulness meditation (Kabat-Zinn, 1990) can be integrated with cognitive what is abstinence violation effect therapy procedures into a system of attentional control training. This approach would be applicable to recovered depressed patients and would serve as a means of preventing relapse. Teasdale and colleagues provide a description of this training which teaches generic psychological, self-control skills and can be used on a continuing basis to maintain skills after initial training. While no data on the effectiveness of this approach in preventing relapse exist to date, this appears to be a useful and stimulating conceptualization of relapse and relapse prevention that deserves further attention.

  • It is inevitable that everyone will experience negative emotions at one point or another.
  • Effective coping skills can lead to increased self-efficacy, and a decreased probability of a lapse.
  • Doing so can allow you the chance to save yourself from relapse before it is too late.

Another possible outcome of a lapse is that the client may manage to abstain and thus continue to go forward in the path of positive change, “prolapse”4. Many researchers define relapse as a process rather than as a discrete event and thus attempt to characterize the factors contributing to relapse3. The camaraderie and cohesion of an RP group are extremely valuable to the treatment process. However, clients should be cautioned against treatment program romances and outside involvement with other group members (e.g., entering into a business relationship). When they start treatment, clients must sign an agreement to avoid intense relationships outside group. The counselor should remind clients of this agreement and discuss with them the rationale for prohibiting intense personal involvement between group members.

Abstinence Violation Effect: How Does Relapse Impact Recovery?

Each client should view recovery as a personal achievement that has been supported and encouraged by other group members. If several group members experience relapse, the independence of each client’s personal recovery can help prevent relapse contagion, in which relapse seems to spread from member to member of a group like an infectious disease. Even when alcohol’s perceived positive effects are based on actual drug effects, often only the immediate effects are positive (e.g., euphoria), whereas the  delayed effects are negative (e.g., sleepiness), particularly at higher alcohol doses. Asking clients questions designed to assess expectancies for both immediate and delayed consequences of drinking versus not drinking (i.e., using a decision matrix) (see table, p. 157) often can be useful in both eliciting and modifying expectancies. With such a matrix, the client can juxtapose his or her own list of the delayed negative consequences with the expected positive effects. Another efficacy-enhancing strategy involves breaking down the overall task of behavior change into smaller, more manageable subtasks that can be addressed one at a time (Bandura 1977).

What is abstinence from behavior?

Abstinence is complete and total avoidance of an activity such as drinking, sex, shopping, or gambling. It is commonly used as a strategy for avoiding problematic or dangerous behaviors.

Prolonged use of a substance causes a level or physical tolerance but after a period of abstinence that tolerance declines substantially. This is why many individuals who have been abstinent (or “clean”) for awhile accidentally overdose by starting to use again at the same level of use they were at before their abstinence period. Equally bad can be the sense of failure and shame that a formerly “clean” individual can experience following a return to substance use. Being able to understand how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors play off of each other can help you to better control and respond to them in a positive way.

A Good Treatment Program Can Help You To Avoid The Abstinence Violation Effect

Again, many experts agree that a one-time lapse into using drugs or alcohol does not equally relapse. Relapse occurs when this behavior accelerates back into prolonged and compulsive patterns of drug abuse. Despite this, lapsing is still a risk factor and makes a person more prone to relapse. Cognitive restructuring can be used to tackle cognitive errors such as the abstinence violation effect.

After the lapse, and to evaluate the situation for clues to the factors that triggered the lapse. These instructions reiterate the importance of stopping alcohol consumption and (safely) leaving the lapse inducing situation. Substance use recovery programs should refrain from defining a mere slip as a total failure of abstinence.

What is the Abstinence Violation Effect and How Can it Hurt Recovery?

However, if one lacks skills, then the model predicts a decrease in self-efficacy and an increase in positive outcome expectancies for the effects of using the substance. This is a likely predecessor of giving into temptation in the initial use of a substance. A person may experience a particularly stressful emotional event in their lives and may turn to alcohol and/or drugs to cope with these negative emotions.

the abstinence violation effect refers to

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