The Relationship Between Stage of Change and Relapse Prevention in Substance Abusing Adults

Nehemiah Johnson, Tennessee State University


Substance abuse-related costs (e.g., healthcare, criminal justice) within the US exceed $500 billion. Of the $181 billion spent on substance abuse, only an estimated $10 million has been used for drug abuse treatment, detoxification, rehabilitation services, and research focused on the prevention of the occurrence of relapse (NIDA, 2006). Relapse and recidivism are common. Historically, research has focused on characteristics of adults who relapse following treatment for substance abuse, whereas factors related to relapse in young adults and adolescents, on the other hand, have largely gone unexplored (Brown, Vik, & Creamer, 2002; Cornelius, et al., 2003). This is likely a critical oversight given the evidence which is suggesting that rapid relapse to drug use is the norm among teens that have completed treatment for substance use disorders (Cornelius et al., 2003; McCarthy et al., 2005). Findings illustrate that fifty percent or more of adolescents relapse to marijuana or alcohol use within the first 3 months after discharge (Brown & Vik, 1994; Brown, Vik, & Creamer, 2002; Catalano, Hawkins, Wells, Miller, & Brewer, 1991; Kennedy & Minami, 2004). Research suggests several options for improving treatment include focusing on motivational enhancement, relapse prevention, problem solving, coping strategies, case management, family support, family therapy, and working with the adolescents to change their environments (Azrin, Donohue, Besalel, Kogan & Acierno, 2002; Brown, et al, 2003; Graham, Annis, Brett, & Venesoen, 2005). The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between stage of change and relapse risk in young adults entering a substance abuse treatment program. Two self-report measures, the Stage of Change Questionnaire (SCQ) and A.W.A.R.E questionnaire were used to measure these two variables, respectively, in order to test the hypothesis that there is a negative correlation stage of change (as measured by SCQ) and risk of relapse (as determined A.W.A.R.E questionnaire scores). Results of Spearman's rho correlation found no significant relationship; therefore, the hypothesis was not supported. This finding held following the removal of a statistical outlier. Possible explanations may relate to the developmental level of the young adult participants. Limitations and suggestions for future studies are provided.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Nehemiah Johnson, "The Relationship Between Stage of Change and Relapse Prevention in Substance Abusing Adults" (2013). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1548025.