There’s Evidence That Alcoholics Anonymous Works for Some People


Alcoholics anonymous (AA) has been around for decades. AA is a 12-step program that treats addiction. According to Cochrane studies involving scientific research, AA is more effective than treatments that have been scientifically proven in the past. The Cochrane study was extensive and involved 11,000 participants. While there is clear evidence that 12-step programs are effective, there’s also evidence that they don’t work for everyone.

A major benefit of alcoholics anonymous is the ability to attend sessions for free. It’s believed that AA and other 12-step treatment programs work because they facilitate recovery by enabling people to make connections that are conducive to healing. Another benefit of AA is the fact that you can find the program everywhere and access is an important part of success. There are literally millions of members and thousands of AA meetings that occur every day. While it’s quite effective for a good number of people, it doesn’t work for everyone. Despite the wide availability of the program and the clear benefits offered by an extensive social network, some people are unable to move through the steps successfully.

During the Cochrane study, it was noted that the period of time in which continuous abstinence from alcohol occurred for individuals participating in AA, was longer than that of other addiction treatment programs. AA also rose above other programs in the areas of drinking intensity and affordability. It’s important to understand that not all 12-step programs are the same. Those that tend to work best employ methods that motivate people to participate. Outcomes are better when persuasion is used effectively to encourage individuals to attend meetings on a regular basis.

Approximately one-third of people that attend AA maintain their recovery for a long period time. There’s also a percentage of people that learn helpful tools from the program but do not achieve long-term recovery; this is about one-third of those that participate. The balance of program participants don’t find the program beneficial at all. The fact that two-thirds of participants in AA benefit in some capacity makes it worthy of consideration, especially for those that cannot afford other treatment options.

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating alcohol addiction. Even some medications don’t work for everyone seeking healing from alcohol addiction. One benefit of the Cochrane study is that 12-step programs like AA are now an evidence-based treatment option that is proven to work for a good number of people.


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