In Relapse Prevention Over Time, G. Alan Marlatt demonstrates his approach to helping clients with substance addictions prevent or cope with relapses during efforts to change addictive behavior. Relapse prevention is a cognitive–behavioral, "maintenance stage" approach taken only after a client commits to either abstinence or moderation, and it is usually used in conjunction with or following clients' participation in another treatment program.
In this series of six sessions, Dr. Marlatt works with a man in his 30s who is striving to overcome a cocaine addiction. During these six sessions, Dr. Marlatt helps the client determine high-risk situations and potential triggers for relapse and teaches skills for getting through these situations. Together they work to restructure the guilt and shame that arise after lapses in abstinence. This compassionate intervention effectively reframes relapse as a mistake to learn from—and avoid—as the client moves toward recovery.