While Alcoholics Anonymous remains a popular option to deal with alcohol addiction, its effectiveness has been often questioned. Making a case in favor of these, a Harvard review study concludes that AA and 12-step programs can be useful to some people.
The review was based on the analysis of 27 primary studies, while the final result was data from about 10,000 research subjects. The results compare the effects of AA and related programs to the outcomes of cognitive-behavioral therapy, citing that it worked equally well at reducing drinking intensity, negative alcohol-related consequences, and addiction severity.
“We conducted this review because, while AA is popular, it remained unclear how helpful it actually is when we subject it to the same scientific evaluation standards as we would any other clinical intervention,” said John Kelly, founder and director of the MGH Recovery Research Institute and lead author of the review. “Surprisingly, we found that AA and related 12-step clinical treatments demonstrated the ability to produce higher abstinence and remission rates at a much-reduced health care cost as compared to other well-established clinical treatments.”
The study further found that the people who are a part of the AA do not utilize other costlier options such as emergency rooms or mental health services. It also speculated that a part of the reason for AA’s positive impact might be the fact that it engages people for a longer-term.
The paper has been published recently in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
If you or someone you know is battling alcohol addiction or AUD, reach out. You can visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website to know more. Alternatively, you can reach out to local helplines and groups in your area.