Does Urge To Drink Predict Relapse After Treatment?
By Damaris J. Rohsenow, Ph.D., and Peter M. Monti, Ph.D.
The urge to drink, also often referred to as craving, is an emotional state in which a person is motivated to seek and use alcohol. In abstinent alcoholics, this urge may contribute to the risk of relapse.
Researchers have developed several models-including the
- conditioned withdrawal model,
- conditioned appetitive motivational model,
- social learning model, and
- information-processing model-to describe the role of urges in relapse.
Several studies have evaluated the role of urges in predicting alcoholism treatment outcome and relapse.
Some findings indicate that the degree of urge an alcoholic experiences when confronted with a simulated high-risk situation at the end of alcoholism treatment can predict subsequent drinking. Other studies, however, show inconsistent results regarding the role of urges in predicting treatment outcome.
Overall, the study results suggest that urges do not necessarily increase the risk of relapse but may actually protect some drinkers against further drinking.
Alcohol Research & Health Vol. 23, No. 3, 1999