Online Activism:  Smashing the AA Monopoly Part 2

ARISE is a for-profit enterprise that claims an 83% success rate.  Which is amazing considering they use fear tactics to produce such amazing results.   When I first contacted ARISE, I did not expect much to be completely honest.  Yet, the feedback form was there and it only took a few minutes to send out my thoughts to them.

The “original” flawed wording on ARISE’s website, including a typo if you catch it.

The reason I was compelled to contact ARISE was because my friend Tom Gleason, who writes the NotPowerless blog, once had an ARISE intervention where he was only offered the 12 Step program as a result.  Of course, there are many problems with this, notwithstanding the monopoly aspect, including the dogmatic religious nature of Alcoholics Anonymous, the bullying culture, and the negative psychology of the twelve steps themselves.

I began simply with: “I have a few quick questions…”  I mentioned their Intevention page only mentioned the possibility of attending a 12 Step program after treatment.  I suggested including more support groups, especially because their website stated: “The addicted individual is invited to join the process right from the beginning with no surprises, no secrets, no coercion, and absolute respect and love.”  In addition, it stated:   “At this meeting serious consequences are put in place if the addicted individual does not enter treatment.”

That sounds like outright coercion into 12 Step programs, and I included the word COERCION in my initial feedback.  Also, I mentioned that 12 Step programs have no rules and sexual harassment (13 Stepping) is commonplace.  After I hit send, I did not expect much of in the way of a response.

The improved paragraph!
The improved paragraph!

Much to my amazement, an ARISE coordinator, Kelly, contacted me right away with the news that the Intervention page no longer included the “12 Step” recommendation.  Yet, this is me, so why stop with this one small victory.  After all, Kelly did write: “Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any further concerns.”

So I went to ARISE’s Information for Families page on their website, and lo and behold, they only mentioned 12 Step programs.  That wasn’t right, in fact, as Tom and I chatted about in the days since, it seems misleading of ARISE to offer support groups and then only list 12 Step programs.

I e-mailed Kelly with my further concerns:

Hi Kelly,

I was looking around ARISE’s website again today, and wanted to touch base on some other concerns I now have.  Although it was beyond great that the 12 Step reference was removed from the Intervention Page, I am concerned that this may be misleading.

On this page for Information for Families ( ), the only support groups listed are 12 Step supports (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.)  They are mentioned by name and linked to their information.  I am concerned because families will not learn about SMART Recovery, SOS, Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, and other supports.

Can these other supports be include as one of several “appropriate support groups” that ARISE now claims on their Intervention Page?  Also, the longer list of links (here- ) does not include SMART Recovery, etc.

Here are their links to make updating ARISE’s website more efficient, also in SEO, search engines, etc, listing these organizations will drive more traffic to ARISE.  So it’s really a benefit for ARISE to offer these links:

I appreciate ARISE’s continued commitment to provide outstanding, quality care to each person they help, and each family they help.  However, to fail to mention alternatives to 12-Step supports is a hindrance to recovery to individuals who do not benefit from those groups.  Also, to favor “some” non-profit 501(c) businesses and not others is favoritism, and this should be at the very least acknowledged, even if ARISE prefers the 12 Step organizations, it is the right, decent, humane thing to do to list the other support groups.

End of letter.

Now, to my absolute shock and super surprise, Kelly responded with: “Good Afternoon Juliet, Thanks so much for taking the time to recommend improvements to the information that our website provides.  The site is newly launched and it is always great to receive feedback.  The links you provided are extremely helpful and the appropriate updates will be made!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other concerns that I can be of help with!  All the best, Kelly.

Hey there good looking, I mean the short list here... I'm not flirting with fonts.
Hey there good looking, I mean the short list here… I’m not flirting with fonts.

Today, Tom messaged me that indeed ARISE’s website now includes the links I provided to them.  I cannot put into words how powerful this round of contacting ARISE has been, resulting in ARISE now promoting SMART Recovery, SOS, Wellbriety (White Bison), Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, Rational Recovery, Moderation Management, and HAMS.

Here's the long list - updated- and posted here to put it on the record.
Here’s the long list – updated- and posted here to put it on the record.

I sent a short response indicating I would gladly recommend ARISE because they have provided these resources now.  Of course, we’ll see if the powers that be take down the links, but today one can find all this information on the ARISE website.  I don’t usually toot my own horn, but “toot toot,” I feel damn good about this and I’m sure anyone reading this will feel good about this also.