The preponderance of evidence supports the causal pathway that AA attendance leads to abstinence (Kaskutas, Zemore).
12-Step affiliation significantly enhances the odds of sustaining abstinence for multiple years among polysubstance-dependent individuals (Laudet).
12-Step involvement yields benefits above and beyond meeting attendance (Kaskutas, Zemore, Laudet)—and this is especially important for women (Laudet).
12-Step attendance declines over time (Laudet, Kelly). Patterns of AA and NA attendance mirror patterns of treatment attendance with multiple stop-and-start episodes (Laudet).
A substantial minority of recovering substance abusers in the community do not participate in 12-Step programs (Laudet).
For adolescents, the relationship between AA meeting attendance and percent days abstinent increase in linear and positive direction at 6 months and 12 months posttreatment (Kelly).
A combination of treatment and AA is most effective (Kaskutas, Zemore).
Among adolescents, early posttreatment attendance, even in relatively small amounts, predicts long-term helpful outcomes. Consistent attendance over time predicts favorable outcomes (Kelly).
Three or more AA/NA meetings per week are optimal and associated with complete abstinence. However, even one or two meetings per week are associated with sharp increases in abstinence (Kelly, White).
Of 1.9 million people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, only 18% are alcohol only and only 36% are drug only (White).
Those who state AA is helpful have better drinking outcomes. Those who state AA is not helpful have poorer drinking outcomes (Robinson).
Addiction severity predicts participation in AA and NA among adults (Robinson) and adolescents (Kelly).
Individuals who benefit from AA identify the importance of being in a group of sober people, see AA as a source of support, benefit from others’ experiences, and search for AA meetings and members with whom they find compatibility (Robinson).
Not too shabby for an approach to problem drinking that has no evidence, huh?
From an interview with the author of a book on how peer pressure has the potential to transform the world in positive ways [emphasis mine]:
Why is there so much fear around connectedness? Some of the people in that group were afraid that other people would become busybodies and that they’d almost get too close for comfort.
I think there’s still a lot of resistance to the idea of solving problems in groups. Not with the idea of addiction anymore — I think those groups [like 12-step programs] have now become the go-to way of dealing with it — but with other problems [the resistance is still there]. America is still a very individualist society compared to most other places. We’ve structured a middle class suburban life that increases that sense of alienation. Your kids don’t play in a communal park — they go to the swing set in your backyard. But I think people are realizing that it’s not healthy to live that way, that we’d be happier if we were more connected.
Interesting…particularly for an approach to drug problems that takes so much flak.