CLARKE, PHILIP BRANKER, Ph.D. The Relationship between Wellness, Emotion Regulation, and Relapse in Adult Outpatient Substance Abuse Clients. (2012) Directed by Drs. Jane E. Myers and Todd F. Lewis. 265 pp Relapse prevention is a critical factor in recovery from substance abuse problems (NIDA, 2009). Treatment has been shown to influence positive recovery trajectories, yet relapse is a considerable complication both during and after treatment (Doweiko, 2002; Miller, Zweben, & Johnson, 2005). Identifying specific factors that can reduce relapse and improve the well-being of persons in recovery is a significant need.
Based on the existing literature, holistic wellness and the ability to emotionally self-regulate may be powerful factors in decreasing the prevalence and severity of addiction relapse. However, to date, no research has been conducted examining a holistic model of wellness as a predictor of relapse in addictions populations. The aspects of emotion regulation and emotion management strategies that affect relapse are not well understood. The purpose of this study was to address a significant gap in the substance abuse treatment literature by exploring the relationships among wellness, emotion regulation, and relapse.
Correlation analyses yielded negative correlations between wellness factors and difficulties in emotion regulation, and wellness factors and relapse. Positive correlations were found between wellness and reappraisal, difficulties in emotion regulation and suppression, and difficulties in emotion regulation and relapse. Logistic regression analyses indicated that Total Wellness, suppression, Social Self wellness, and Physical Self wellness were predictive of whether or not participants relapsed. Total Wellness, reappraisal, suppression, and difficulties in emotion regulation were predictive of total relapse days. Social Self and Physical Self wellness were related to decreased relapse days and Creative Self wellness was associated with increases in relapse days. The hypothesis which stated that difficulties in emotion regulation and emotion regulation strategies would mediate the relationship between wellness and relapse and wellness and total relapse days was not supported. Finally, Total Wellness, difficulties in emotion regulation, and emotion regulation strategies explained variance in total relapse days above and beyond variance accounted for by socio-demographic variables. Future research should further explore the relationships between wellness, emotion regulation, and relapse by examining a variety of substance use behaviors as outcomes, utilizing additional measures of emotion regulation, and incorporating longitudinal research designs.