Introducing the addiction recovery model of social identification (ARMS) demonstrated in a six-week prospective study

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims: To explore how direct (explicit) and indirect (implicit) measurement outcome of differentiation between a social identity of “recovery” (ingroup) compared to “addiction (outgroup) might impact relapse and attrition rates over a six-week period.

Design: A six-week prospective study with explicit and implicit identity differentiation (“recovering addict” – “addict”) as predictors to relapse and attrition rates as criterion variables.

Setting: County based alcohol and drugs charity.

Participants: Thirty-Seven service-users attending ‘recovery’ groups.

Intervention: Personalised Single Target Association Test (ST-IAT) and self-report questionnaire.

Measurements: Indirect measurement achieved with personalised ST-IAT (T2 and T6); (attribute categories = ‘addict’ and ‘recovering addict’; target category = ‘self’). Explicit measurement outcome achieved with self-report questionnaire exploring identification with ‘addict’ and ‘recovering addict’ identities, relapse and attrition rates. Multiple regression analyses were used.

Findings: Implicit identity preference for the “recovery addict” identity T2, significantly predicted reduced levels of relapse with greater variance than explicit identity preference for the “recovering addict” identity T2, which was not significant in the model. These results were replicated for relapse T4, T5 and T6. Implicit identify preference for the “addict” identity significantly predicted attrition at T3, T4 and T5. When explicit identity preference for the “recovering addict” identity T2 was added, this model became nonsignificant.

Conclusions: The addiction recovery model of social identification (ARMS) developed from this work may better inform how positively distinct social identities of addiction and recovery at both implicit and explicit levels may direct and moderate behaviour. Treatment implementation that considers this perspective may therefore be more effective.

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Dr Daniel Frings, London South Bank University; Professor Ian P Albery, London South Bank University


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Dr Sarah Buckingham