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


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Abstract

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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