Recent Studies in AA; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Since Alcoholics Anonymous inception in 1935, it has been a subject of fascination for scientists. Many have wanted to determine just how effective the organization’s infamous 12-step program really is.
While most of the research into the organization has been positive, there are also bad and ugly parts.
However, as with most beneficial organizations, the good most definitely outweighs the bad and ugly.
In a recent study that asked how people how they perceived their experience with Alcoholics Anonymous, 42.3 percent found their experience helpful.
These people who found the program helpful were found to have a longer duration since their last drink than other groups. Additionally, they had fewer heavy drinking days when compared with people who didn’t find the program helpful.
Another study used data from Veterans Administration programs to determine that those who went to a 12-step program for their alcohol problems were twice as likely to remain abstinent after one year.
For those who did not attend a 12-step program, they were only 20 to 25 percent as likely to remain abstinent.
A separate study seems to confirm these results. It took a look at over 600 alcoholics who were interviewed at one and three years after their addiction treatment.
For people who were still attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings 36 months after their initial visit, they had a 35 percent higher chance of being abstinent from alcohol.
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The same study which looked at how satisfied people were with their Alcoholics Anonymous experience also found that 19.2 percent found the organization unhelpful, while 18.2 percent had mixed comments.
Most of these people said that they found the program to be too negative and couldn’t relate to others in their groups. Additionally, some even felt more capable of handling their problems on their own.
One problem noted in most of these studies is that none of them can provide proof of a direct or specific effect from Alcoholics Anonymous itself. Instead, there is only a correlation between abstinence and going to meetings.
This effect can also be noted in other programs or treatments – meaning that simply having any type of treatment or support (and not specifically choosing Alcoholics Anonymous) can help a person recover from alcoholism.
Unfortunately, a few scientists have begun to consider Alcoholics Anonymous as a cult rather than a helpful support group.
There have been several studies done that note the aspects of mind control in organizational doctrine and proceedings, including mystical manipulation, milieu control, a demand for purity, and a need for confession.
However, this could be further from the truth for several reasons. First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that members follow a specific God during the program. Second, they do not try to control anyone’s medical assistance.
Third, the 12-step program is not a method of taking away autonomy, but rather, a voluntary set of suggestions intended to save a person’s life.
As you can see, while there are some negative studies out there about Alcoholics Anonymous, most of the response is overwhelmingly positive.
The statistics clearly show that Alcoholics Anonymous plays a crucial role in the life of recovering alcoholics.