Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social contacts, self-confidence crucial to successful recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, study finds

Date:
September 12, 2011
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Among the many ways that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous helps its members stay sober, two appear to be most important -- spending more time with individuals who support efforts towards sobriety and increased confidence in the ability to maintain abstinence in social situations. Researchers now report the first study to examine the relative importance of behavior changes associated with participation in AA on successful recovery.

Among the many ways that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps its members stay sober, two appear to be most important -- spending more time with individuals who support efforts towards sobriety and increased confidence in the ability to maintain abstinence in social situations. In a paper that will appear in the journal Addiction and has been released online, researchers report the first study to examine the relative importance to successful recovery of the behavior changes associated with participation in AA.

Related Articles


"AA is the most commonly sought source of help for alcohol addiction and alcohol-related problems in the United States and has been shown to help people attain and maintain long-term recovery," says study leader John F. Kelly, PhD, associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Addiction Medicine. "This study is the first to investigate exactly how AA helps individuals recover by examining the independent effects of several mechanisms simultaneously."

In 1990, the current report's authors note, the Institute of Medicine called for more research into exactly how AA helps its members. While subsequent studies have documented the short- and long-term benefits of AA participation, only recently have researchers investigated how those benefits are conferred. A broad range of factors associated with AA participation have been identified as contributing to recovery -- including changes in social networks, maintaining motivation, confidence in the ability to cope with the demands of recovery, decreased depression symptoms and increased spirituality -- but no study as yet has been able to determine the relative importance of those mechanisms.

To meet that goal, the current study analyzed data from more than 1,700 study participants who had been enrolled at nine U.S. centers as part of a federally funded trial known as Project MATCH that compared three alcohol treatment approaches. Almost 1,000 were recruited into the study directly from the community, and another 775 had received prior inpatient treatment, indicating a greater degree of alcohol dependence. Along with the treatment approaches being tested in Project MATCH -- cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and a 12-step therapy -- participants were free to attend AA meetings.

At follow-up sessions 3, 9 and 15 months after completing the Project MATCH therapies, participants received several assessments. In addition to reporting their alcohol consumption -- based on both the frequency and the intensity of recent drinking -- attendance at AA meetings, and spiritual and religious practices, they also completed specialized assessments of confidence in their ability to remain abstinent in social situations and when experiencing unpleasant emotions, of their level of depression symptoms, and of whether their close social ties supported or discouraged their efforts to maintain abstinence.

Overall results indicated that greater participation in AA during the first three months of the study period was independently associated with more successful recovery over the following year. Of the behavioral changes associated with AA attendance, changes in social networks -- more contacts with people who supported abstinence and fewer with those would encourage drinking -- and greater confidence in the ability to maintain sobriety in social situations were most strongly connected with recovery success. Reduced depression and increased spirituality or religious practices also had a significant independent role in the recovery of participants whose had received inpatient treatment and probably had been more seriously dependent on alcohol.

"Our findings are shedding light on how AA helps people recover from addiction over time," says Kelly. "The results suggest that social context factors are key; the people who associate with individuals attempting to begin recovery can be crucial to their likelihood of success. AA appears adept at facilitating and supporting those social changes. Further questions we need to investigate are whether particular groups of individuals -- women or men, young or old people, those with or without accompanying psychiatric disorders -- benefit from AA in the same or in different ways." Kelly is an associate professor in the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry.

Additional co-authors of the Addiction report are Bettina Hoeppner, PhD, MGH Center for Addiction Medicine; Robert Stout, PhD, Decision Sciences Institute/PIRE, Pawtucket, R.I. and Maria Pagano, PhD, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Social contacts, self-confidence crucial to successful recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912095131.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2011, September 12). Social contacts, self-confidence crucial to successful recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912095131.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Social contacts, self-confidence crucial to successful recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110912095131.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins