Development of an acceptance-based coping intervention for alcohol dependence relapse prevention

Subst Abus. 2010 Apr;31(2):108-16. doi: 10.1080/08897071003641594.


Both psychological and neurobiological findings lend support to the long-standing clinical observation that negative affect is involved in the development and maintenance of alcohol dependence, and difficulty coping with negative affect is a common precipitant of relapse after treatment. Although many current approaches to relapse prevention emphasize change-based strategies for managing negative cognitions and affect, acceptance-based strategies for preventing relapse to alcohol use are intended to provide methods for coping with distress that are fundamentally different from, though in theory complementary to, approaches that emphasize control and change. This paper describes the development of Acceptance-Based Coping for Relapse Prevention (ABCRP), a new intervention for alcohol-dependent individuals who are within 6 months of having quit drinking. Results of preliminary testing indicate that the intervention is feasible with this population; and a small uncontrolled pilot study (N = 23) showed significant (P < .01) improvements in self-reported negative affect, emotional reactivity, perceived stress, positive affect, psychological well-being, and mindfulness level, as well as a trend (P = .06) toward reduction in craving severity between pre- and postintervention assessments. The authors conclude that this acceptance-based intervention seems feasible and holds promise for improving affect and reducing relapse in alcohol-dependent individuals, warranting further research.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Behavior, Addictive / prevention & control
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy