Alcoholics Anonymous, commemorating its 76th anniversary this year, counts 2 million members who participate in some 115,000 groups worldwide, about half of them in the United States How well does it work? Anthropologist William Madsen, then at the University of California, Santa Barbara, asserted in a 1974 book that it has a “almost incredible” success rate, whereas others are much more doubtful. After examining the literature, we found that AA might help some people overcome alcoholism, particularly if they also get some expert support, but the evidence is far from overwhelming, in part due to the fact that of the nature of the program.
Alcoholics Anonymous got its start at a conference in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, between a businessman named Costs Wilson and a doctor, Bob Smith. “Costs W” and “Dr. Bob,” as they are now known, were alcoholics. Wilson had attained sobriety mainly through his affiliation with a Christian motion. Smith stopped consuming after he fulfilled Wilson, whose success motivated him. Identified to help other issue drinkers, the males quickly released what has become known as “The Big Book,” which defined their philosophy, principles and approaches, consisting of the now well-known 12-step method. Alcoholics Anonymous was the book’s official title as well as ended up being the name of the company that grew from it.
In AA, members fulfill in groups to help one another accomplish and preserve abstaining from alcohol. AA targets more than problem drinking; members are supposed to remedy all problems of character and adopt a new method of life. No therapists, psychologists or doctors can participate in AA meetings unless they, too, have drinking problems.
A for Abstaining?
Many research studies assessing the effectiveness of AA are not conclusive; for the many part, they associate the duration of involvement with success in quitting drinking but do disappoint that the program caused that result. Some of the issues stem from the nature of AA– for instance, the fact that exactly what occurs during AA meetings can vary considerably. Even more, about 40 percent of AA members drop out during the first year (although some might return), raising the possibility that individuals who stay might be the ones who are most inspired to enhance.
The outcomes of one well-designed investigation called Project Match, released in 1997, suggest that AA can facilitate the shift to sobriety for lots of alcoholics. One was an AA-based treatment called 12-step assistance treatment that includes contact with a professional who helps clients work the first few of the 12 actions and motivates them to attend AA conferences.
The AA-based approach seemed to work and compared favorably with the other treatments. In all 3 groups, participants were abstinent on approximately 20 percent of days, on average, before treatment started, and the fraction of alcohol-free days rose to about 80 percent a year after treatment ended. What is more, 19 percent of these subjects were teetotalers during the entire 12-month follow-up. Since the study lacked a group of people who got no treatment, however, it does not reveal whether any of the techniques are superior to leaving individuals to attempt to stop consuming by themselves.
Other research study recommends that AA is a fair bit better than receiving no assistance. In 2006 psychologist Rudolf H. Moos of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Stanford University and Bernice S. Moos published arise from a 16-year research study of problem drinkers who had tried to stop on their own or who had sought help from AA, expert therapists or, in some cases, both. Of those who participated in a minimum of 27 weeks of AA conferences during the first year, 67 percent were abstinent at the 16-year follow-up, compared with 34 percent of those who did not participate in AA. Of the subjects who got therapy for the very same period, 56 percent were abstinent versus 39 percent of those who did not see a therapist– an indicator that seeing a professional is also advantageous.
These findings may not use to all issue drinkers or AA programs. Different research studies have found that a mix of expert treatment and AA yields better results than either method alone.