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Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention for Older Adults: A Group Treatment Approach

NCJ Number
Larry W. Dupree Ph.D.; Lawrence Schonfeld Ph.D.
Date Published
210 pages

This manual describes a relapse-prevention approach for helping older adults overcome substance use disorders.


The manual is designed for counselors and treatment providers working with substance involved older adults. The approach described involves a cognitive-behavioral and self-management intervention (CB/SM) designed for use within a counselor-led group treatment setting. Although this manual does not provide a comprehensive guide to substance abuse, it does provide directions for introducing relapse-prevention techniques to older adults. The CB/SM approach was developed to engage and support clients as they learn the skills necessary to cease substance abuse and to understand and control the daily factors that lead clients to relapse. The history of CB/SM is presented, followed by a discussion of the advantages and phases of CB/SM. Specifics on the older adult treatment population are offered, such as the prevalence of substance use disorders among older adults and their unique treatment needs. The modular structure of the CB/SM approach is defined and the step-by-step process for implementing the treatment is described. The bulk of the manual is devoted to the presentation of the 9 modules involved in the CB/SM approach, which include: (1) the analysis of substance use behavior; (2) how to manage social pressure; (3) how to manage situations at home and alone; (4) how to manage negative thoughts and emotions associated with substance abuse; (5) how to manage anxiety and tension; (6) how to manage anger and frustration; (7) how to control substance abuse cues; (8) how to cope with urges; and (9) preventing a slip from becoming a relapse. Appendixes contain a Substance Abuse Profile for the Elderly interview schedule. Figures, appendixes, references