Site Accessibility Statement
Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
April 17, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Introduction to Relapse Prevention

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Addictions (only if you are working towards the Addictions certificate).

You do not have to be working toward the Addictions Certificate to take this course

This course has been approved for six related CACCF continuing education hours.

February 20, 2014
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. |$175
Instructor: Michelle Nogueira, RSSW, CAC II, CPGC

Relapse prevention (RP) is a broad term that refers to a wide range of therapeutic techniques that aid in the prevention of lapses and the relapse of addictive behaviours. The term "relapse" was initially used in the medical field to refer to those people who re-experience a disease stage (Marlatt and Donovan, 2005). In the addiction field, this term is commonly associated with returning to addictive behaviours/substances after a period of abstinence. Relapse prevention is essentially cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a focus on the maintenance stage of addictive behaviour change that has two main goals:
  • to prevent an initial lapse and/or
  • to prevent a lapse from turning into a full-blown relapse
Relapse prevention aims to increase the clientís awareness of high-risk situations and increase coping skills, self-efficacy and control of internal and external triggers that may make the client more vulnerable to relapse. Relapse prevention is highly educational and a specialized skill set that is integral to addressing all types of addictions.

Course objectives:
  • create an understanding of relapse as an unfolding process rather than an event
  • develop an understanding of relapse terminology and the differences between a relapse, slip and/or binge 
  • review key philosophies and theoretical approaches in relapse prevention (Gorski, Marlatt, Gordon, Daley, Annis and Davis)
  • understand the role of relapse in the stages of change model
  • identify the three most common high-risk situations that precipitate relapse
  • understand the role that seemingly unrelated decisions (SUD) and apparently irrelevant decisions (AID) play in the relapse chain
  • increase the helping providerís confidence in engaging in a discussion about the essential components of relapse prevention: high-risk situations, urges and triggers
  • learn and apply practical skills that will assist the client in developing an individualized relapse prevention plan

Note: For additional learning, the book Structured Relapse Prevention: An Outpatient Counselling Approach (2nd Edition) by Marilyn A. Herie and Lyn Watkin-Merek is recommended by the instructor.