Relapse research and the reasons for drinking questionnaire: a factor analysis of Marlatt's relapse taxonomy

W. H. Zywiak, G. J. Connors, S. A. Maisto, V. S. Westerberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


A factor analysis (n=183) of Marlatt's relapse taxonomy as assessed by the Reasons for Drinking questionnaire (RFDQ (see Appendix I, this article) was conducted using a heterogeneous alcohol treatment sample. Results indicated that the predominant factor was negative emotions. The second factor consisted of social pressure and positive emotions, and a third factor consisted of physical withdrawal, wanting to get high, testing control, substance cues and urges to drink. Each of the 13 categories in the Marlatt taxonomy loaded on one of the three factors. Scores on the first factor for the first and second lapses were correlated. The same held true for the other two factors. The negative emotions factor was positively related to blood alcohol level on the first day of the lapse, the lapse duration (in days), and occurrence of a second lapse (even when controlling for alcohol dependence). The negative emotions factor in turn was related to client reports of alcohol dependence trait anger, and depression (all positively). Women scored higher on the first factor, and men scored higher on the second factor. The third factor was inversely related to the number of days of abstinence preceding the lapse. Taken together, these analyses illustrate that different precipitants occur together, suggesting that clients might productively be trained in the use of specific relevant coping skills to address potential relapse precipitants. Focusing on the third RFDQ factor may be particularly important in the early stages of abstinence. The importance of anger and depression management during alcohol treatment is also highlighted by these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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