Bringing a friend or family member back from the clutches of a drug or alcohol problem is not an easy task.
When an addiction is threatened, it pulls out all the stops to escape confrontation and survive at any cost. But the importance of unity and support from loved ones can be the decisive factor in helping a patient get the treatment they need before it’s too late. One way to do that is through what is called the ARISE intervention.
The Basics of an Intervention
An intervention itself is a process whereby a group of concerned and invested people attempt to convince someone they know to seek professional help for a substance abuse problem. Mayo Clinic explains that the intervention is a chance for the people to present their loved one with evidence of how the addiction has damaged their relationships with the participants in the intervention and to present a choice: accept treatment (and all the lifestyle changes that come along with it) or suffer the clearly defined consequences (such as divorce, revocation of visiting rights, eviction, etc.).
Interventions are rarely easy events. They can be tense, emotionally exhausting, and embarrassing for the people involved.
This is why interventions require a great deal of preparation (sometimes going back weeks before the actual event) and should be conducted without the supervision and moderation of a professional interventionist.
Because an intervention (and the addiction problem it targets) is so all-encompassing, a successful intervention needs the complete buy-in of everyone connected to the patient. To facilitate this, the intervention itself must be as open and safe as possible, giving family members a warm, welcoming place where they can share their experiences and concerns for their loved one. The key here is to be as supportive and affirming as possible; an intervention based on judgment and condemnation will be doomed to fail.
The ARISE Intervention Model
This school of thought gives us the ARISE intervention model, one that emphasizes collaboration between all participants in the intervention. ARISE stands for “A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement.”
The idea is to eliminate thoughts of guilt and blame (from the participants to the addict or even vice versa), and focus instead on how best to get the patient to accept the proposition of going to treatment.
As explained by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the ARISE intervention is founded on three primary principles:
- It eschews confrontation. In doing so, it avoids the blowback that aggression evokes.
- It considers the needs of the family as well as those of the patient. A substance use problem almost always involves some kind of betrayal of trust and disappointment, and it is unfair to assume that only the patient is the one who suffers. The ARISE model looks to offer rehabilitation and healing to everyone who has been hurt by the drug or alcohol problem, not just the user.
- It places, as its goal, the patient enrolling in a residential and/or outpatient treatment program.
While the overall focus of these principles is not limited to the ARISE intervention model, what sets it apart is how it is designed to call upon the greatest possible degree of engagement from the participants, with the least amount of professional involvement. There are three levels to the ARISE model that helps it strike this balance.
Levels of ARISE
The first involves full knowledge and buy-in of the patient. Traditionally, the patient is the last to know about the intervention, only becoming aware of it when he or she arrives at the designated meeting place to find a group of people waiting to begin. As the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explains, the preparation stage of the intervention is primarily intended to educate and inform family members on what to expect and what to do. This is done to ensure that the patient does not have time to make up any excuses for his behavior or does not try to get out of doing the intervention.
The first level of an ARISE intervention, on the other hand, begins with the loved one calling an intervention specialist with the full knowledge of, and maybe even the participation of, the addict. There are multiple reasons for this involvement. It gives the patient a greater sense of investment and responsibility in his recovery, being made to feel as though he is an active part of the process (as opposed to being brought in when everything has been planned and decided for him).
Furthermore, conducting the initial consultation by phone helps reduce stress levels for everyone, preventing the prospect of the intervention from becoming overwhelming very early on in the process. Roping in the patient when things are still at this distant stage offers him a preview of what might happen if his substance abuse continues to the point where an actual, in-person intervention is required. For a number of addicts, this is enough to engage them in treatment as long as this step is taken very early on in the addiction. If the addiction is too advanced, a phone consultation will likely not be enough to convince a patient to seek treatment.
If the patient still refuses treatment, the second level of the ARISE model ramps up the effort to convince him, while still stopping short of a full-on intervention. Here, the professional interventionist will meet with the addict and respective friends and family members to talk about the substance problem in a healthy, positive, and constructive way. Since the whole ARISE model is based on inclusivity and information, this is another opportunity for the addict to acknowledge the effects of his behavior and voluntarily enroll in a treatment program before the drastic measure of a traditional intervention.
Level 3 of the ARISE Model+
That drastic measure manifests itself in the third and final level of the ARISE model. At this stage, the patient still refuses treatment and still refuses to shoulder any culpability for what her drug or alcohol use has done to her family or social circles. With this level of entrenchment, there is no recourse left but to convene a formal meeting of concerned parties, moderated by the professional interventionist. One thing that the third level of the ARISE model has in common with other styles of interventions is the introduction of the concept of consequences. It seems to run counter to the more open and compassionate approach of the ARISE style, but if the patient’s addiction runs so deep that she has spurned the opportunities provided by the other two levels, then a stronger hand is needed.
The “stronger hand” is, as mentioned above, the clarification of clear and tangible consequences if the patient does not cease her addictive behavior and enter a treatment program.
The ARISE model is set up in such a way that most patients don’t have to experience the third level. If a family is concerned that their loved one may be using drugs or abusing alcohol, the ARISE model is a good choice to implement as soon as possible, when the patient can still be swayed to get treatment. Wait too long, however (out of a reluctance to confront the patient, for fear of retribution, or because it is too difficult to accept that a loved one is a substance abuser), and the addiction warps her way of thinking, so much so that the only option left is the full intervention with its component of consequences.
The Family Unit and the ARISE Model
An intervention is not just for the benefit of the patient. Psychology Today explains that the family unit is vitally important to the recovery of the addict, because family members will learn if (or how) their behavior contributed to the problem. Being prepared for the intervention, and then trying to convince their loved one to accept treatment, teaches them about the dynamics of communication within their family. It teaches them about the boundaries of saying “no,” how to compromise, and how to affirm and support someone without giving in to begging or coercion.
The ARISE model takes this to heart, emphasizing familial involvement at all stages of the process. Even though the actual substance abuse may be limited to just one person, the effects can bring down an entire network of people.
Hearts may be broken, trust may be betrayed, livelihoods ruined and families torn apart. The ARISE model is designed with the group in mind, knowing that it’s not just the addict who needs healing. Even if/when the patient accepts the offer of treatment and enrolls in a program, the family still has to put the pieces of their lives back together. The ARISE model keeps everyone involved and engaged in the lifespan of the process, ensuring that the way forward will have a good foundation.