12-step involvement and continuous abstinence at 2 years

More support for twelve step facilitation and sober housing:

Participants who were categorically involved in 12-step activities were significantly more likely to maintain continuous abstinence at 2 years compared with those who were less involved, predicting a greater likelihood of complete abstinence than summary scores of involvement. In addition, participants in the Oxford House condition were significantly more likely to remain continuously abstinent throughout the course of this randomized clinical trial. Findings suggest that categorical involvement in a set of 12-step activities and communal-living settings such as Oxford Houses are independent factors associated with continuous abstinence from both alcohol and illicit drugs among substance dependent persons.

7 thoughts on “12-step involvement and continuous abstinence at 2 years

  1. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even the most ardent true believers who will be honest about it recognize that A.A. and N.A. have at least 90% failure rates. And the real numbers are more like 95% or 98% or 100% failure rates. It depends on who is doing the counting, how they are counting, and what they are counting or measuring.

    A 5% success rate is nothing more than the rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics and drug addicts. That is, out of any given group of alcoholics or drug addicts, approximately 5% per year will just wise up, and quit killing themselves.6 They just get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and of watching their friends die. (And something between 1% and 3% of their friends do die annually, so that is a big incentive.) They often quit with little or no official treatment or help. Some actually detox themselves on their own couches, or in their own beds, or locked in their own closets. Often, they don’t go to a lot of meetings. They just quit, all on their own, or with the help of a couple of good friends who keep them locked up for a few days while they go through withdrawal. A.A. and N.A. true believers insist that addicts can’t successfully quit that way, but they do, every day.

  2. You’re right to point out that 12 step recovery is not the only path to recovery and that many people with drug and alcohol problems achieve what is sometimes called spontaneous or natural recovery. It’s also worth pointing out that there has been research on these people and there are consistent differences between them and addicts/alcoholics who recover through 12 step programs–their AOD problems are less severe, they have more recovery capital and they have fewer problems in other areas of their lives.

    The 5% statistic is something I have a problem with though. I have a post addressing that myth and myths about astronomical success rates before AA “lost its way.” That post can be found here.

    When you say, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”, what, specifically, are you referring to?


  3. I think timzauto was misinterpreting what the article said. In it, you used the term “more likely”. It sounds as if he thought your comments were a rejection of any other form of recovery. It seems to me that the 12 Steps is merely one path that can be taken. He mentions the “natural” method but misses the common thread between the two – a good friend (s) or support system to help you get through it. Relapse occurs because most people cannot identify the emotional “triggers” or the emotional sequence that makes them use over and over again. There is a pretty good article here: http://dentedego.com/blogs/265/148/drugs-and-alcoholism regarding some of those triggers. The site, which is cool, is setup virtual support. Check it out. http://www.dentedego.com. I am sure your words would help someone there as well.

  4. Tim, I sort of agree with you in that 12-stepping is far from the only way to recover, and that their success rates may be exaggerated. Still, I think the statistics might be misleading – or at least they don’t show the whole picture.

    Effective recovery includes a social support structure, medication, and the management of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. If these things aren’t in check, then it’s not likely for AA or other support programs to do much good. Maybe mor studies should be done on people who have all of those elements of their recoveries in place – and then see how the ones who also used 12-stepping fared.

  5. I have a Dad who sobered up without AA while my brother and I have used AA successfully for many years. As I was the last of the three to get sober, I recognized a number of characteristics that my brother developed but my Dad did not, and that is why I decided to go to AA. Dad never grew much spiritually or emotionally, and continued to blame others for his alcoholism while I saw significant, positive behavioural changes in my brother and I was grateful for the support he gave me when I decided to sober up. My Dad, on the other hand, never even acknowledged the hurt he caused while drinking and he even ignored my brother’s alcoholism, when he was in rehab. It was like he didn’t even know his own son had a problem. That was sad and not healthy. AA teaches us to be responsible, quit blaming others, how to love others, and how to connect to something greater than ourselves. Unfortunately Dad continued to think he was the center of the universe. I loved him and was very grateful for his sobriety, but he / we still missed out on so much happiness. So, it’s not necessarily the length of sobriety, but also the quality of sobriety we achieve and AA definitely provides a great foundation for an improved quality of life.

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