Effectiveness of Help Provided by Alcoholics Anonymous

The people who are seeking assistance for substance abuse problems like a drug or alcohol use disorder often find effective support in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The benefit of working together in a support group is often pivotal to a major change in choices related to alcohol use.

Many people join the Alcoholics Anonymous group as their first step toward making a change in their lifestyle, while others are introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous as a secondary aspect of a treatment program at a medical facility. Because AA operates without the use of any United States government funds, they represent a critical part of ongoing care for those with substance abuse problems.

An integral part of the addiction recovery process is ongoing participation in Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings. Individuals are introduced to the AA philosophy and concept during the active phase of treatment, and it is recommended that they continue attending meetings for at least the first year after they have completed their treatment program. Many people continue to attend throughout their sobriety. Fresh out of treatment, however, many recovering addicts feel they don’t need (or want) to go to meetings and let this part of their recovery slide. That’s a huge mistake, one which may result in relapse.

Jane Wittbrodt and Anders Romelsjo examined the effectiveness of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous one year past the initiation of addiction treatment. They explored if there were gender differences in the role Alcoholics Anonymous played in recovery, and participants in the United States and Sweden were examined. To gather data, the researchers compared men and women from treatment samples showing parallel designs. There were 1,525 Swedish participants and 926 participants from the United States.

Individual characteristics, such as demographic, severity, and motivational factors, were examined, as well as formal and informal influences, such as treatment, mutual help, coercive and social factors. These measures were studied to discover whether there was a relationship of help-seeking correlates of attendance.

In the USA and Sweden, similar proportions of men and women were involved in mutual-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Twice as many US clients reported attendance. Also, twice as many US clients perceived abstinence to be the goal of their attendance at the mutual-help group.

In both countries, several factors predicted posttreatment attendance. If a participant was supported by having an abstinence goal, a perceived need for treatment, suggestions from an employment environment, and prior mutual-help attendance, they were more likely to continue the mutual-help group. The gender difference was also found to be a factor.

The results of the study show that mutual-help groups are an important component of services offered to those struggling with addictions, given the cyclical nature of relapse and recovery.

Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are often a critical component for those who are trying to overcome an alcohol or drug addiction. The support found there can be very important for accountability, and the low-cost nature of the program makes it very attractive as an addition to programs found at drug and alcohol rehab treatment facilities.

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