Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work?: Scientific American


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why aa works

A.A. Works Best to Maintain Abstinence, Study Says


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** A.A. Works Best, Study Says **

*Experts Unsure Why Alcoholics Anonymous Is More Effective*

By Buddy T, Guide

Updated July 16, 2006 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical
Review Board

Individuals who were encouraged to cut down on their drinking by fellow
Alcoholics Anonymous members were three times more likely to be abstinent a
year after their first treatment for alcoholism, compared to individuals
who received no support, a new study reports.

Individuals who received similar support from non-AA members, however, had
nearly the same chance of being abstinent as if they had received no
support at all, according to Lee Ann Kaskutas, P.D., of the Alcohol
Research Group in Berkeley, Calif., and colleagues.

"This suggests that AA members offer types of social support that differ
from those typically offered by nonmembers," Kaskutas says.

The study by Kaskutas and colleagues examined the relationship between AA
involvement, social support and alcohol use in 722 adults a year after
their first treatment for alcohol or drug abuse.

Although AA involvement did help many of these individuals cut down on
their drinking, the program's influence was reduced by a third when the
individuals also had relationships with people who were heavy or problem
drinkers or who encouraged drinking, say the researchers.

The study was published as part of a special collection of research on the
ways AA involvement may influence behavior in the March 2003 issue of
/Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research/.

"We still have a poor understanding of what AA-exposed individuals actually


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