What Is The Abstinence Violation Effect?

For example, a person who limited their drinking would not be practicing abstinence, but a person who refused all alcoholic beverages on a long-term basis would be abstaining from drinking. Note that these script ideas were pulled from a UN training on cognitive behavioral therapy that is available online. The result of this lackluster planning is that we recognize abstinence violation effect future disturbances, yet do nothing to truly resolve them. If we feel stress, anger or depression, we do not find healthy ways of confronting these feelings. We instead view these emotions as justifications of the negative cognition experienced under AVE. Our hopelessness and our instinctive desire to give up were spot-on, or else we would be happy all the time.

Recently, Magill and Ray [41] conducted a meta-analysis of 53 controlled trials of CBT for substance use disorders. As noted by the authors, the CBT studies evaluated in their review were based primarily on the RP model [29]. Overall, the results were consistent with the review conducted by Irvin and colleagues, in that the authors concluded that 58% of individuals who received CBT had better outcomes than those in comparison conditions.

Moving Forward in Recovery After AVE

Proximal risks actualize, or complete, the distal predispositions and include transient lapse precipitants (e.g. stressful situations) and dynamic individual characteristics (e.g. negative affect, self-efficacy). Combinations of precipitating and predisposing risk factors are innumerable for any particular individual and may create a complex system in which the probability of relapse is greatly increased. The most promising pharmacogenetic evidence in alcohol interventions concerns the OPRM1 A118G polymorphism as a moderator of clinical response to naltrexone (NTX). Moreover, 87.1% of G allele carriers who received NTX were classified as having a good clinical outcome at study endpoint, versus 54.5% of Asn40 homozygotes who received NTX. (Moderating effects of OPRM1 were specific to participants receiving medication management without the cognitive-behavioral intervention [CBI] and were not evident in participants receiving NTX and CBI).

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The study of implicit cognition and neurocognition in models of relapse would likely require integration of distal neurocognitive factors (e.g., baseline performance in cognitive tasks) in the context of treatment outcomes studies or EMA paradigms. Additionally, lab-based studies will be needed to capture dynamic processes involving cognitive/neurocognitive influences on lapse-related phenomena. Equally important is to learn to identify situations that carry high risk of relapse and to develop very specific strategies for dealing with each of them. High-risk situations include both internal experiences—positive memories of using or negative thoughts about the difficulty of resisting impulses—and situational cues. And the approaches can encompass both behavioral strategies—it is sometimes wisest to just walk away from a challenging situation or to call on one’s support network—and cognitive ones, such as distancing oneself from one’s thoughts unil h dure to use dissipates.

Continued empirical evaluation of the RP model

Goals of cognitive therapy as it pertains to RP include identification of, insight into, and modification of an individual’s maladaptive thoughts and ideas as they relate to achieving sobriety and avoiding relapse. Cognitive therapy seeks to identify and challenge maladaptive thoughts and ideas such as I can never be 100% sober, the stress of my job makes me drink, if I only felt better and less stressed I would be able to stop drinking. Therapy also supports and encourages positive protective thoughts and ideas such as sobriety is hard and I will work hard to get there, but it is much better than the alternative, drinking used to be fun, now it just causes me problems, and I can do this if I take it one day, one moment at a time. 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.

  • Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care found adult women who engaged in voluntary sexual abstinence were less likely to have used illicit drugs, misused alcohol, or be unemployed.
  • It is important to highlight that most of the studies cited above did not provide goal-matched treatment; thus, these outcomes generally reflect differences between individuals with abstinence vs. non-abstinence goals who participated in abstinence-based AUD treatment.
  • We instead view these emotions as justifications of the negative cognition experienced under AVE.
  • Cognitive therapy seeks to identify and challenge maladaptive thoughts and ideas such as I can never be 100% sober, the stress of my job makes me drink, if I only felt better and less stressed I would be able to stop drinking.

Put simply, the AVE occurs when a client perceives no intermediary step between a lapse and a relapse. For example, overeaters may have an AVE when they express to themselves, “one slice of cheesecake is a lapse, so I may as well go all-out, and have the rest of the cheesecake.” That is, since they have violated the rule of abstinence, they “may as well” get the most out of the lapse. Treatment in this component involves describing the AVE, and working with the client to learn alternative coping skills for when a lapse occurs, such that a relapse is prevented.

Celibacy vs. Abstinence

Similarly, self-regulation ability, outcome expectancies, and the abstinence violation effect could all be experimentally manipulated, which could eventually lead to further refinements of RP strategies. The recently introduced dynamic model of relapse [8] takes many of the RREP criticisms into account. Additionally, the revised model has generated enthusiasm among researchers and clinicians who have observed these processes in their data and their clients [122, 123].

There has been little research on the goals of non-treatment-seeking individuals; however, research suggests that nonabstinence goals are common even among individuals presenting to SUD treatment. Among those seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), studies with large samples have cited rates of nonabstinence goals ranging from 17% (Berglund et al., 2019) to 87% (Enggasser et al., 2015). In Europe, about half (44–46%) of individuals seeking treatment for AUD have non-abstinence goals (Haug & Schaub, 2016; Heather, Adamson, Raistrick, & Slegg, https://ecosoberhouse.com/ 2010). In the U.S., about 25% of patients seeking treatment for AUD endorsed nonabstinence goals in the early 2010s (Dunn & Strain, 2013), while more recent clinical trials have found between 82 and 91% of those seeking treatment for AUD prefer nonabstinence goals (Falk et al., 2019; Witkiewitz et al., 2019). Rather, when people with SUD are surveyed about reasons they are not in treatment, not being ready to stop using substances is consistently the top reason cited, even among individuals who perceive a need for treatment (SAMHSA, 2018, 2019a).

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