Webster’s Dictionary defines a relapse as a recurrence of symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement. This definition can apply to medical, mental health, or addictive diseases or disorders. Alan Marlatt, a widely published author who wrote the first book on relapse prevention (RP), defined relapse as a breakdown or setback in an attempt to change an addictive behavior such as alcohol or drug use. A lapse is the initial episode of substance use after a period of recovery, and it may or may not result in a full-blown episode of relapse, in which substance use is out of control.

Research shows a 40% to 60% relapse rate among individuals receiving treatment for addiction. Similar relapse rates are found with other chronic medical ...

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