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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 35 (1993) 6

New research

Chronic relapse during withdrawal treatment

G. Pype, R. Vanacker

Chronic relapse must be situated in the transitional phase between chronic addiction and early abstinence. The patient feels as if there were two personalities within himself, a so called 'àddicted self and a `sober self . Both are in turn dominating his behaviour. There seems to be a constant witholding of cathartic processes, which are essential to the development of a new identity. On a therapeutic level, we suggest an approach of emotional support and understanding the ongoing process, rather than focusing intensively on the drinking problem itself. Long-lasting abstinence is not any longer considered to be a quickly and easily reachable goal. Instead, patients are taught skills to cope with relapse and to make progress in dealing with daily problems.