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Studies Show that AA is the Right Step for Staying Sober

This is a summary of the study “Encouraging Posttreatment Self-Help Group Involvement to Reduce Demand for Continuing Care Services: Two-Year Clinical and Utilization Outcomes” which appeared in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Persons attending AA are 30% more likely to remain sober for at least two years according to a recent study.

Researchers from Stanford University compared the sobriety rates of two groups of men. One attended 12-Step based programs and the other attended cognitive-behavioral (CB) programs. Clinical assessments were taken at one and two year post-treatment intervals.

The one year follow up showed a higher abstinence rate among those in 12-Step programs. These results were mirrored again at the two year follow up. At its conclusion the study found that participating in a 12-step program increased sobriety rates by 30%. The 12-Step programs also cost significantly less than their CB counterparts.

Clinicians attributed these results to the emphasis placed on 12-Step principles and the promotion of self-help group involvement.

Lead researcher Dr. Keith Humphreys suggested the often spiritually oriented treatment environment was also a factor and said this element was identified by many AA members as crucial to overcoming their addiction.

Dr. Humphreys, in an interview with BBC’s Health Check program, was quick to point out that people of other faiths or no faith benefit from a 12-Step treatment approach, as it is the promotion of self-help group involvement that appears to improve post treatment outcome.

In addition to higher abstinence rates, 12-Step programs were also found to reduce the costs of continuing health care when compared to CB programs. The explanation could be that 12-Step participants were more actively engaged in their recoveries. In contrast, CB program participants relied more heavily on outpatient and inpatient services.

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