In my previous blog blog we asked the question whether neurobiological or “conditioning” or reinforcement models of craving predict relapse in abstinent alcoholics and addicts?
For us this is the most essential question. How do we explain relapse in those individuals motivated to remain abstinent, especially when they have followed some form of treatment, including 12 step groups?
We have seen that most relapse seems to be prompted by psychological stressors such as interpersonal relationships and the failure to cope with these.
This is very different to conditioning or reinforcement models that simply posit that people relapse because of the lure of alcohol or drug related stimuli, “cues”, or cues in the presence of stress or negative emotions, which we believe does have some affect.