It Works If You Work It

Alcoholics Anonymous works best and in the long term when participants engage

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) There are support groups for alcoholics all over the place. The key to staying sober may be to not only go to meetings, but engage in talking, listening and organization duties.

A recent study followed 226 alcoholics from treatment programs for 10-years.

Results found that lower relapse rates were associated with being actively involved with Alcoholics Anonymous.

"Make connections with people."

Maria Pagano, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, led a study on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). For the study, 226 treatment-seeking alcoholics were recruited for a 10-year follow-up after initial treatment.

Alcohol consumption and participation in AA-related helping (AAH) were assessed before treatment, after 3-months of treatment, at 1-, 3- and 10-years after treatment.

Dr. Pagano said, “Our study is the first to explore the 10-year course of engagement in programmatic 12-step activities (AAH) and their simultaneous influence on long-term outcomes.”

Dr. Pagano found study results supported the benefits of getting involved with AA by participating in a service position or being supportive of another member. 

The study showed that 82 percent of the original group completed the 10-year follow-up interview.

Only 3-11 percent of the group participated in AAH activities at any given time, but averaged at 9 percent over the course of 10 years.

Dr. Pagano said, “Consequently, being interested in others keeps you more connected to your program and pulls you out of the vicious cycle of extreme self-preoccupation that is a posited (supposed) root of addiction.”

This study was published in May in Substance Abuse. Funding for this study was provided by the John Templeton Foundation and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 16, 2012
Last Updated:
September 18, 2012