VTC scientists study new approach to help people with alcohol use disorder
AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one's inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model -- open to all and free -- has spread around the globe, and now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups.
Though the fellowship has been around for more than eight decades, researchers have only recently developed good methods to randomize trial participants and measure its effectiveness, Humphreys said.
For the Cochrane review, the researchers found 57 studies on AA; of those, 35 passed their rigorous criteria for quality. The studies used various methods to measure AA's effectiveness on alcohol use disorder: the length of time participants abstained from alcohol; the amount they reduced their drinking, if they continued drinking; the consequences of their drinking; and health care costs. AA shines
Most of the studies that measured abstinence found AA was significantly better than other interventions or no intervention. In one study, it was found to be 60% more effective. None of the studies found AA to be less effective.
In the studies that measured outcomes other than complete abstinence, AA was found to be at least as effective. For the studies that considered costs, most showed significant savings associated with AA participation: One found that AA and 12-step facilitation counseling reduced mental health costs by $10,000 per person.
The researchers looked only at studies of AA; they excluded Narcotics Anonymous and organizations focused on addiction to other substances. While it was beyond the scope of their study, Humphreys said the AA review is "certainly suggestive that these methods work for people who use heroin or cocaine."
Humphreys noted that the findings were consistent whether the study participants were young, elderly, male, female, veterans or civilians; the studies in the review were also conducted in five different countries. "It absolutely does work," he said of AA's method.
He added that he feels validated in giving advice to so many patients to try AA: "That was really good advice, and that continues to be good advice," he said. Source:
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