Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Abstinence Violation Effect

  • Susan E. CollinsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center Email author 
  • , Katie WitkiewitzAffiliated withUniversity of New Mexico




The abstinence violation effect (AVE) refers to the negative cognitive (i.e., internal, stable, uncontrollable attributions; cognitive dissonance) and affective responses (i.e., guilt, shame) experienced by an individual after a return to substance use following a period of self-imposed abstinence from substances (Curry et al. 1987).


AVE in the Context of the Relapse Process

The AVE was introduced into the substance abuse literature within the context of the “relapse process” (Marlatt and Gordon 1985, p. 37). Relapse has been variously defined, depending on theoretical orientation, treatment goals, cultural context, and target substance (Miller 1996; White 2007). It is, however, most commonly used to refer to a resumption of substance use behavior after a period of abstinence from substances (Miller 1996). The term relapse may be used to describe a prolonged return to substance use, whereas lapse may be used to describe discrete, circumscribed “slips” duri ...

This is an excerpt from the content