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do not result in high rates of hospitalization or psychiatric visits after treatment. In fact, she said, another of the study's key findings is that patients in programs with a 12-step orientation had a higher rate of abstinence, in addition to much lower health-care costs, following treatment completion.

"You might not think it would have that effect," she said, "because of the non-medical and non-psychiatric flavor of 12-step methods. Dr. Humphreys suggests one thing that may contribute to this effect: during treatment, people make connections with each other, and get advice from one another. So later, if they feel sick or worried, and talk to someone they met in treatment about this, they will likely send that person back to the same type of program where they met. When people who were in cognitive treatment need help, they immediately think of going to the doctor. People [who were] in 12-step treatment immediately think of going to a meeting. Whether or not he is right about [the effects of fellowship] is an area for future research. His study has set up a lot of important questions to pursue next."

"We as a society are fortunate to have a developed system of self-help organizations that do not cost the taxpayer or the health-care system a dime," said Humphreys. "Organizations like AA not only reduce human misery, they also take a big burden off of our increasingly resource-strapped health-care system. Hence, it is important for health care professionals to learn about these organizations and develop connections with them."


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Contact: Keith Humphreys, Ph.D.
knh@stanford.edu
650-617-2746
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
14-May-2001


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