The GATE Model (Copyright 2012) is an interactive, user-friendly tool that facilitates the communication of priorities in identifying needs and allocating resources, among clients, support systems, and professionals.
The GATE Model incorporates subjective assessments of known factors in the progression of addiction, on the axes of Genetics, Access, Trauma, and Environment, to create a graphic representation of risk. The simple visual style of the GATE Model engages participants, increasing the likelihood that they will maintain their involvement in treatment, as they are given a clear view of the path to recovery from addictive illness.
In the addictions curriculum that I developed at the University of North Carolina Wilmington School of Social Work, MSW students grapple with the question, “Why?,” as it applies to the lives of individuals and families they encounter in diverse settings. While research has given us contemporary insights that have expanded our collective understanding beyond the limitations of the 12 Steps and the Disease Concept, students and professionals often have much more awareness of “how” addiction manifests in a person’s life than “why.” It was in the academic environment that I attempted to integrate my knowledge and experience working with individuals and families suffering from addiction, to create a learning tool that could open doors of insight, in responding to that question which defies simple answers.
Clinicians often contend with constraints of time and resources that allow limited opportunities for exploring treatment options. When innovative strategies succeed in carving through bureaucracy, resulting in positive outcomes for clients and their families, it may be more the result of intuition than a formal process. Unfortunately, the safety concerns inherent in addictive illness narrow the margin of error that exists in planning and executing interventions; we never know when the last relapse might be followed by death, instead of recovery. The GATE Model translates a “wild guess” at treatment priorities into an “educated guess.”
The tragic consequences of addiction are typically more predictable than the optimal interventions in the life of an individual. The GATE Model opens a window into options for reducing risk of relapse or progression of addictive illness, advancing the potential for actionable insights that can significantly improve the prognosis..