Alcoholic's attributions of factors affecting their relapse to drinking and reasons for terminating relapse episodes

Stephen A. Maisto, Timothy J. O'Farrell, Gerard J. Connors, James R. McKay, Margorie Pelcovits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations


This study was designed to examine alcoholics' attributions about their relapses. The subjects were 36 male alcoholic participants in a study of the effectiveness of group behavioral marital therapy (BMT) for alcoholism. Subjects' treatment condition had been determined by random assignment to either the BMT, interactional marital therapy, or control group. At a two year posttreatment follow-up interview, subjects were asked what they thought the main reasons were for starting and stopping drinking in their two most recent relapses. Subjects' responses showed that both interpersonal and psychological factors were perceived to affect relapses, with some treatment group differences in how relapses were viewed. Subjects reported a variety of factors in their stopping drinking, with anticipation of negative consequences the most frequently reported reason. The treatment groups did not differ on their attributions for relapse termination. The results were interpreted as replicating and extending previous studies of relapse among alcoholics by showing the importance of spouse and other family members in subjects' attributions of relapse and their termination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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