Here is a summary of the practice implications from the presentations at last year’s conference on How AA and NA Work. Video and slides from the presentations are available here.
- Enhance motivation for recovery and help individuals to accept support: Laudet’s research found that the reasons people leave 12-Step programs are parallel to the lessons learned from relapse: one must want recovery and be willing to accept help from others. Perhaps treatment can target this parallel phenomenon by working to enhance motivation and help individuals to seek and accept support.
- Expose individuals to AA and NA: Robinson’s research indicated that those who said AA was helpful had better drinking outcomes. These individuals were also more likely to have attended and been involved in AA. Therefore, AA exposure and involvement is important in allowing individuals to come to their own perceptions of AA. Those who find it helpful are likely to be helped by it.
- Hold 12-Step program meetings at on-site treatment locations: Those who attended a treatment program with an on-site meeting were more likely, after discharge, to be abstinent and attending 12-Step meetings than those whose in-house meeting had been discontinued.
- Help individuals become socialized to the AA experience: Incorporate a group designed to do just that, such as Kaskutas and Oberste’s ‘‘MAA’EZ: Making Alcoholics Anonymous Easier.’’ This manual-based and evidence based group designed to help individuals in treatment experience AA and overcome obstacles to experiencing the organization’s benefits. The manual including the full curriculum is available from the authors. The MAA’EZ approach has been tested and evidence for its effectiveness has been published (Kaskutas, Subbaraman, Witbrodt, & Zemore, 2009).
- Encourage participation during and directly after treatment: Those who participated in 12-Step programs immediately after a treatment episode fared better over time (Kelly).
- Encourage 12-Step involvement, not just 12-Step attendance: Those who became involved in AA and NA had more stable abstinence than those who merely attended. Doing service for the group and having a home group are especially important (Laudet).
- Encourage a minimum of three meetings a week: Three meetings per week is the optimal pattern of attendance that predicts abstinence among adolescents, but lesser participation is also extremely helpful (Kelly).
- Become knowledgeable about the variety of mutual aid recovery groups in the community: Become familiar with different types and varieties of AA meetings and encourage clients to try several meetings before coming to definitive conclusions about their options (Robinson).