Recidivism can be described as the act of an individual returning to a certain behavior or repeating a behavior that is undesirable, and one, which the individual has taught how to avoid it. In most cases, the individual might have suffered negative consequences from the behavior. Recidivism is commonly used to relate to former inmates who are rearrested for committing an offense that is similar to their previous offence. The term is mostly connected to substance abuse and/or criminal behavior. Recidivism model looks focuses on the number of individuals indulge in a certain negative activity upon treatment. On the other hand, relapse refers to the act of resuming a certain behavior or using certain drugs or chemical substances. In the course of a person trying to overcome a certain habit or substance dependence, he might go through several relapses before succeeding to quit the behavior. A relapse can be considered as a stage of change model that describes that individuals have to go through a process of avoiding and taking required steps to quit a certain behavior but then relapse (Marlatt & Donovan, 2008).
The model for relapse prevention is founded on social cognitive psychology and it integrates a conceptual model of relapse and behavioral and cognitive strategies to prevent the episodes of relapse. Signs that would signal that an individual is heading for a relapse would include the individuals stopping to do what they require to do so as to remain abstinent, acting in a way they used to act when they were in the behavior or addiction, thinking that a single drug would not hurt for substance addicted individuals, etc. Harm reduction can be described as practices, programs, and policies that are aimed at minimizing the consequences that maybe associated with the consumption of harmful substances or indulgence in certain behaviors by people who are not willing to stop the usage of the substances (Marlatt & Donovan, 2008). For instance, the exchange of needles for heroin users to prevent sharing and using syringes more than once is a good example of a harm reduction program.
Contrasting the three models
Recidivism is a one act treatment outcome model whereas relapse is a repeated acts treatment outcome model. For instance, in case of a prisoner who commits a crime and lands in prison again, that is an act of recidivism. On the other hand, a drug addict may relapse to his habit several times in a given year; research has it that more than 60% of prisoners commit related crimes after their release from prisons. Harm reduction is similar to relapse in that it is a repeated action but differ from recidivism that occurs once in different individuals.
Recidivism is a better treatment outcome model compared to relapse because it is not possible to determine the number of times that an individual relapses to his behavior. As for recidivism, it is a matter or whether the individual has repeated the action or not, but not a matter of how many time the individual has repeated the action. It is therefore more accurate to use recidivism model in defining treatment than using relapse model (Ries, 2009). Recidivism data is more relevant than data obtained from harm reduction when defining treatment. It is easier to determine whether an individual has committed a crime or has indulged in a certain behavior than it is to determine the number of times the individual has committed the crime or has indulged in the behavior.
Challenges and advantages of the models
In recidivism model, there exist some issues that are cited as treatment barriers too offenders. An example of such an issue may be a poor facility for the offenders, hence preventing change. An advantage of this model is that the model is promising and it is robust for both substance abuse and criminal activities. Reducing recidivism is beneficial and has successful outcomes to communities and societies at large. A great challenge is encountered when collecting data in the relapse model as it becomes hard to ascertain the number of times individuals relapse to their negative habits. The model, however, trains addicts to anticipate relapse and help them to overcome it. A challenge encountered in harm reduction is the evaluation of stigma or negative moral when applying an approach of public health to addicts who may lack control over their use of drugs. The model is advantageous in that it is easily and successfully applicable in sexual health (Ries, 2009).
From the comparison of the three models, it is clearly brought out that each model has its area that it can serve well. For instance, the harm reduction model is best applicable in sexual health, while recidivism model is best applicable in matters of crime.
Marlatt, G. A., & Donovan, D. M. (2008). Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors. New York: Guilford.
Ries, R. (2009). Principles of addiction medicine. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.