Most clinical studies examine individuals either during or immediately following treatment. A study in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research tracks individuals for 16 years who have first acknowledged their alcohol-use problems and then chosen Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), treatment, or both. Findings indicate that people who become involved in both AA and treatment fare better than those who obtain only treatment.
"We know that self-help groups, such as AA, contribute to better alcohol-related and psychosocial outcomes," said Rudolf H. Moos, senior research career scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, California, and corresponding author for the study. "For example, patients with alcohol use-disorders who participate in AA, and those who attend more meetings and/or participate for a longer time, are more likely to be abstinent and to maintain remission up to five years after an episode of professional treatment than patients who are not involved or less involved in such groups. Affiliation with AA also is associated with more self-efficacy and problem-solving coping skills, and better social functioning, which are linked to better alcohol-related outcomes."
Moos and his colleague(s) wanted to further examine the even longer-term outcomes of AA and treatment, and how they might interact with one another. "In the current study, we wanted to find out whether individuals who participated only in AA in the first year after initiating help-seeking (and did not obtain professional treatment) achieved outcomes comparable to those of individuals who participat