Classes of Substance Abuse Relapse Situations: A Comparison of Adolescents and Adults

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Research in the process of relapse has uncovered important developmental differences in the situations that make adolescents and adults most vulnerable to relapse after substance abuse treatment. This study takes a developmental, person-centered approach to relapse by examining the latent class structure of relapse precursors in adolescents and adults. Adults (N = 160) and adolescents (N = 188) in substance abuse and psychiatric treatment were followed up to 18 months after discharge to gather detailed information about their first relapse after treatment. Both adolescents and adults exhibited a 2-class structure of relapse precursors. Adult classes were labeled social and urges situations (primary precursors: social pressure and urges; 67%) and negative and urges situations (primary precursors: negative affect and urges; 33%), while teen classes were labeled social and positive situations (primary precursors: enhancing a positive emotional state and social pressure; 69%) and complex situations (primary precursors: negative affect, negative interpersonal situations, social pressure, and urges; 31%). Findings are discussed in relation to developmental and clinical considerations in treating clients with substance use disorders and comorbid psychopathology.

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