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COU8014 Relapse Prevention

Semester 2, 2022 Online
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Wellbeing
Student contribution band : Professional Pathway Psych
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 18 May 2022


Examiner: Rebecca Lane


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCAD or GDCN or MPPS or GCCO or MCCO


Relapse prevention is a recent addition to the suite of responses to behavioural problems, including substance use, eating disorders, and sexual offending, all of which have cognitive and behavioural elements in common. As an intervention model, relapse prevention has emerged as a supplemental tool in recognition of the challenges many individuals face in maintaining treatment gains. Historically, maintenance of treatment gains had been poor, and the notions of lapse and relapse in the substance using client were not well understood. Relapse prevention has since emerged as an aspect of addiction treatment where ‘failure’ has been reconceptualised as an experience from which substance using clients may learn. In addition, any approach to the treatment of substance misuse and other addictions is incomplete without a strategy for assisting clients to maintain treatment gains or abstinence in their post-treatment lives.

This course is divided into three parts. The first part concerns the theoretical basis of relapse prevention, and the evidence base which informs its application in practice. The second part of the course focuses on knowledge of the situational risk factors and cognitive distortions that maintain health compromising behaviours. Students are guided through several readings and practical activities to assist development of skills for identification of cognitive distortions. This component also includes a range of strategies for responding to client lapses and relapse, both for short to medium term management, and for longer term maintenance of resilience to relapse risk. The final module addresses ethics and cultural factors, both of which are either mandated or recommended aspects of training in the health professions. The knowledge components of the course are provided in a structured 10-module format assessed through a series of online quizzes, while the skills component is assessed via a multi-faceted applied case study task.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Critically analyse the evidence base for relapse prevention in substance using populations
  2. Apply the foundation theory and principles of relapse prevention
  3. Critically discuss a range of different treatment approaches in relapse prevention, and when they are indicated or contraindicated
  4. Apply a relapse management framework in accordance with best practice principles
  5. Critically discuss ethical and cultural factors in relapse prevention


Description Weighting(%)
1. Overview of relapse prevention and management 10.00
2. Mechanisms of change in relapse prevention 10.00
3. Specific interventions: Lapse versus relapse 10.00
4. High risk situations 10.00
5. Coping with cravings 10.00
6. Identifying, tracking, and challenging thoughts 10.00
7. Global skills in relapse prevention and management 10.00
8. Building interpersonal supports and healthy behaviours 10.00
9. Summary of relapse prevention and management 10.00
10. Ethics and culture in relapse prevention 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Marlatt, GA & Donovan, DM 2008, Relapse Prevention:, Maintenance Strategies in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviours, Guildford Press, New York.

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Oral Presentation (ind, grp, mltmd) No 10 1,2
Assignments Written Case Study No 50 1,2,3,4
Assignments Written Quiz No 40 1,2,3,4,5
Date printed 18 May 2022