Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Abstinence Violation Effect

  • Susan E. CollinsEmail author
  • Katie Witkiewitz
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_623-2




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 lapsemay be used to describe discrete, circumscribed...

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References and Further Readings

  1. Collins, R. L., & Lapp, W. M. (1991). Restraint and attributions: Evidence of the abstinence violation effect in alcohol consumption. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 15, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Curry, S., Marlatt, G. A., & Gordon, J. R. (1987). Abstinence violation effect: Validation of an attributional construct with smoking cessation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 145–149.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Larimer, M. E., Palmer, R. S., & Marlatt, G. A. (1999). Relapse prevention: An overview of Marlatt’s cognitive-behavioral model. Alcohol Research & Health, 23, 151–160.Google Scholar
  4. Laws, D. R. (1995). Central elements in relapse prevention procedures with sex offenders. Psychology Crime and Law, 2, 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Marlatt, G. A., & Gordon, J. R. (1985). Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Miller, W. R. (1996). What is relapse? Fifty ways to leave the wagon. Addiction, 91(Suppl), S15–S27.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change (2nd ed.). New York: US Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  8. Miller, W. R., Westerberg, V. S., Harris, R. J., & Tonigan, J. S. (1996). What predicts relapse? Prospective testing of antecedent models. Addiction, 91(Suppl), 155–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mooney, J. P., Burling, T. A., Hartman, W. M., & Brenner-Liss, D. (1992). The abstinence violation effect and very low calorie diet success. Addictive Behaviors, 19, 23–32.Google Scholar
  10. Stephens, R. S., Curtin, L., Simpson, E. E., & Roffman, R. A. (1994). Testing the abstinence violation effect construct with marijuana cessation. Addictive Behaviors, 19, 23–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Walton, M. A., Castro, F. G., & Barrington, E. H. (1994). The role of attributions in abstinence, lapse and relapse following substance abuse treatment. Addictive Behaviors, 19, 319–331.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Weiner, B. (1974). Achievement motivation and attribution theory. Morristown: General Learning Press.Google Scholar
  13. White, W. L. (2007). Addiction recovery: Its definition and conceptual boundaries. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33, 229–241.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Witkiewitz, K., & Marlatt, G. A. (2007). Relapse prevention for alcohol and drug problems. In G. A. Marlatt & D. M. Donovan (Eds.), Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Washington, Harborview Medical CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA