« ASHES Vol. 5(7) - Lighting up to feel thin: How body dissatisfaction and negative affect contribute to the urge to smoke among college women | Main | Op-Ed/Editorials: Using Innovation to Engage Intravenous Drug Users in Harm Reduction »

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I would like to comment on the relapse article and also to solicit feedback. It's my understanding that Sheff went to numerous 12-step treatment facilities, where it is not uncommon to be told that any use of any substance whatsoever is a relapse. Therefore, with his first "slip" (as I recall it began with taking some pills from his mother's medicine cabinet), the abstinence violation effect went into full effect and he figured he had already blown it and may as well go "all the way."So part of the problem is addressing what clients are taught in the first place about the concept of a lapse versus a relapse.

Clients are also commonly taught that, even if they never had any problem with a particular substance (e.g., alcohol, in the case of a pot-dependent person), use of the nonproblematic substance is still considered a relapse because it will increase the odds of a full-fledged relapse. I am seeking research supporting this notion.

Anne M. Fletcher
Author, Sober for Good

As a former worker in the UK alcohol treatment field, my view is that relapse prevention is the core business of any service for drinkers.
I do however feel sympathy for the predicament of ex-drinkers (& users) who, while working hard to completely reorientate their lives are condemned to chronic, respectable sobriety. Not only do the rest of us take for granted the pleasure - or release - of a temporary holiday from the mundane provided by alcohol, cannabis or whatever our drug of choice may be, it has been argued (by Andrew Weil & many subsequent authors) that is a basic human appetite - but one that those "in recovery" are forbidden to satisfy.
Should relapse prevention therefore include instruction self-induced euphoria? After all, aren't most of the benefits we attribute to psychotropic drugs placebo effects anyway?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

The BASIS is a product of the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. The Division is an entirely self-funded academic organization that relies on grants, contracts, and gifts in order to produce The BASIS and our other high-quality work.