Addiction Treatment – Relapse Prevention

An important part of addiction treatment is relapse prevention. Relapse Prevention is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy which is used in addiction treatment centres. Cognitive-behavioural strategies are based on the theory that learning processes play a critical role in the development of maladaptive behavioural patterns. Individuals learn to identify and correct problematic behaviours. Relapse prevention encompasses several cognitive-behavioural strategies that facilitate abstinence as well as provide help for people who experience relapse.

The techniques of relapse prevention were originally developed for the treatment of problem drinking, but were later adapted for cocaine addicts. The relapse prevention approach to the treatment of cocaine addiction consists of a collection of strategies which are intended to enhance self-control. Specific techniques used include exploring the positive and negative consequences of continued use, self-monitoring to recognize drug cravings early on and identifying high-risk situations for use. The techniques develop strategies for coping with and avoiding high-risk situations and the desire to use.

A central element of relapse prevention treatment is anticipating the problems patients are likely to meet and helping them to develop effective coping strategies. Research studies indicate that the skills an individual learns through relapse prevention therapy remain after the completion of addiction treatment. In one study, most people receiving this cognitive-behavioural approach maintained the gains they made in treatment throughout the year following treatment.

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