College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Treatment of Substance Abuse by Relaxation Training: A Review of Its Rationale, Efficacy and Mechanisms.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1984

Keywords

Alcoholism, Anxiety, Follow-Up Studies, Muscle Relaxation, Relaxation Therapy

Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors

ISSN

0306-4603

Volume

9

Issue/No.

1

Abstract

The efficacy of relaxation training as a treatment for alcohol and drug abuse is reviewed, and directions for future research derived. Such use of relaxation procedures, notably progressive muscular relaxation and meditation, has been widespread and is premised on the assumptions that substance abuse is causally linked to anxiety and that anxiety can be reduced by relaxation training. However, the evidence suggests that such precipitating anxiety is limited to interpersonal-stress situations involving diminished perceived personal control over the stressor, and that alcohol and other drugs are often consumed for their euphoric rather than tranquilizing effects. Consequently, the empirical support for the effectiveness of relaxation training as a treatment for substance abuse in general is equivocal. As well, the existing outcome studies suffer from numerous methodological and conceptual inadequacies. In cases of demonstrated effectiveness, increased perceived control is a more plausible explanation than is decreased anxiety.

DOI

10.1016/0306-4603(84)90006-6

Peer Reviewed

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