THEORETICAL PAPER
Willpower building: a new element in relapse prevention
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1
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom
2
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom
Submission date: 2016-02-21
Final revision date: 2016-04-21
Acceptance date: 2016-04-21
Online publication date: 2016-05-23
Publication date: 2016-05-20
 
Health Psychology Report 2016;4(4):281–293
 
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ABSTRACT
Willpower, self-control and self-regulation may be important ingredients in recovering from addiction. The authors contend that findings from controlled experiments into self-control and self-regulation can be usefully translated into clinical practice as part of a relapse prevention programme. This would be in the form of willpower building, with willpower being broadly synonymous with self-control and self-regulation. Numerous studies indicate that self-control is a capacity which functions like a muscle. In this sense, self-control can be built up, but is also subject to depletion when utilised. Findings suggest that there is direct applicability for self-control in relation to addiction, and recovery in general. It is possible that this capacity can be developed through individual or group sessions. It is argued that clinical sessions should focus on: awareness, planning, building protective habits and exercising self-regulation. While some of these areas are covered in traditional psychological treatments of addiction (i.e., Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Motivational Interviewing), making this capacity more explicit would be advantageous. Our challenge is for researchers to test these notions in controlled clinical studies.
 
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