Introducing NIDA’s Technology Transfer Package on Relapse Prevention
Relapse continues to be a very serious problem facing the substance abuse, mental health and criminal justice fields. Research suggests that nearly half of all chemical dependency clients relapse at least once. Many of these clients are not in denial, acknowledge their addictions and want to change their lives so they can stay off drugs. The problem is that they do not know how to do so, resulting in an inability to cope with the numerous temptations to use alcohol and drugs that confront them once they leave treatment. Clearly, relapse is a real threat and is too important to be ignored.

Despite the prevalence and importance of the problem many treatment agencies and drug courts do not have a specific relapse prevention track for clients, or are not using use proven and effective relapse prevention approaches. Relapse prevention approaches teach clients how to identify and handle such factors as stress, interpersonal conflicts, negative and positive emotions, high–risk situations, cravings and social pressures. Every program can, and should offer proven and effective relapse prevention approaches to help its clients prepare to manage their lives on their own; independently of the treatment program and/or court system they are involved in.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s has developed the Relapse Prevention Technology Transfer Package to help organizations implement two proven and effective approaches to preventing relapse.

What are the two approaches presented in the NIDA Technology Transfer Package?

They are called Recovery Training and Self Help (RTSH) and Cue Extinction.

Recovery Training and Self-Help (RTSH) is the more comprehensive of the two. It combines four strategies, and can be used effectively in the context of continued care and/or follow-up counseling services provided in the course of addiction recovery. RTSH can be used as part of either residential or outpatient programs. The other approach, Cue Extinction, can help weaken and even eliminate the cravings for drugs that clients may experience in response to certain situations and stimuli. It can be used effectively in combination with RTSH.

Why are these two relapse prevention approaches recommended over others?
A variety of relapse prevention approaches are currently in use around the country. Among them are approaches based on cognitive behavioral, social support, 12 step, lifestyle change, cure extinction and pharmacotherapeutic techniques. The two approaches in the NIDA Relapse Prevention Technology Transfer Package were chosen because careful scientific testing have proven that, they work: they help recovering persons stay off drugs.

Twelve-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), are commonly used and help many substance abusers recover, their effectiveness, however, has not been difficult to prove by scientific research. Nonetheless, treatment programs that are committed to approaches such as NA and AA will find that the two approaches recommended here are compatible with them.

What are the features of Recovery Training and Self Help?
RTSH employs a group format which combines cognitive –behavio0ral, social support, and lifestyle change approaches in four strategies. The principal strategy is Recovery Training group of 6 – 30 members who meet weekly for 90 minutes under a counselor’s guidance to examine hot to handle common threats to recovery. Other RTH components are weekly Fellowship Group Meetings, Group Social Recreation for clients and their friend, and a network of Senior Recovering Persons to offer guidance and serve as role models.

How does Cue Extinction work?
Cue Extinction teaches clients coping mechanisms to reduce cravings and urges to use drugs. It can be used effectively on an outpatient as well as in a controlled residential program.

Cue Extinction simulates a temporary craving for drugs by having clients recall and describe situations that have made them want to use drugs in the past. By repeatedly exposing clients to their own personal triggers, and teaching them tools for dealing with the cravings that arise from these triggers without letting them resort to using drugs, the program causes cravings gradually to weaken and possibly even disappear.

Cue extinction has been show to improve retention rates in treatment for cocaine addicts.

What are the contents of the Relapse Prevention Technology Transfer Package?

An introduction to relapse prevention which discusses the nature and causes of relapse, gives reason for doing relapse prevention, and describes two test relapse prevention approaches.

Two individual sets of material covering the Recovery Training and Self Help Model, and Cue Extinction.
Each set contains a program administrator’s guide, which discusses administrative considerations in employing that approach, and in service training material for programs to train staff to use the approach.

The RTSH materials include a copy of the Recovery training and Self Help: Relapse Prevention and After Care Manual.

The administrators' guides for each approach discuss administrative and planning issues that program managers interested in adding relapse prevention to their programs should consider. These issues include staff training, fitting relapse prevention into the limited time most programs have to work with clients, and adjusting the model to fit specific program philosophies.

Do you want more information about the theoretical concepts and research on relapse prevention?
The clinical report on relapse prevention, a companion piece to the technology transfer package, includes detailed discussions of the nature and causes of relapse and of the two tested approaches to relapse prevention. The report also includes references to journal articles and books offering still more information on the subject.

Relapse Prevention Can Boost Your Success.
Using these approaches, you can help clients develop coping techniques they can use, if they wish, to stay free of drugs long after they have left your program. These two proven relapse prevention techniques can help you elevate your success rate. To recap their purposes:


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA' Relapse Prevention Technology Transfer Package provides guidance on how to implement two approaches to preventing relapse A companion NIDA clinical report on relapse prevention provides detailed information about relapse and an overview of relapse prevention approaches.

RTSH enables clients to learn how to identify and deal with specific high risk situation, how to enjoy social situations that do not involve drugs, and how to develop new relationships, both social and intimate.

Cue Extinction can help clients reduce or eliminate their cravings for drugs, even; when confronted with the situations that have triggered the urge in the past.

Workshops will equip participants with the knowledge, skills and materials to implement the proven and effective recovery methods and to assist clients in developing coping techniques to stay drug and alcohol free.
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Evidence Based - Proven Effective - Designed for Transfer