Understanding and Preventing Relapse

  • Kelly D. Brownell
  • Edward Lichtenstein
  • G. Alan Marlatt
  • G. Terence Wilson
Part of the The Plenum Series in Behavioral Psychophysiology book series (SSBP)


This chapter examines relapse by integrating knowledge from the disorders of alcoholism, smoking, and obesity in an attempt to emphasize in a prototypical manner the overlap in etiological mechanisms and treatment rationales for disorders with powerful, underlying biological self-regulation components. Commonalities across these areas suggest at least three basic stages of behavior change: motivation and commitment, initial change, and maintenance. A distinction is made between the terms lapse and relapse, with lapse referring to the process (slips or mistakes) that may or may not lead to an outcome (relapse). The natural history of relapse is discussed, as are the consequences of relapse for patients and the professionals who treat them. Information on determinants and predictors of relapse is evaluated, with the emphasis on the interaction of individual, environmental, and physiological factors. Methods of preventing relapse are proposed and are targeted to the three stages of change. Specific research needs in these areas are discussed.


Smoking Cessation Behavioral Medicine Physiological Factor Relapse Prevention Addictive Behavior 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly D. Brownell
    • 1
  • Edward Lichtenstein
    • 2
  • G. Alan Marlatt
    • 3
  • G. Terence Wilson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Oregon, and Oregon Research InstituteEugeneUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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