A Great Public Health Resource: Alcoholics Anonymous
In March of 2020, three of the world’s most important addiction researchers (Dr. John Kelly from Harvard University, Dr. Keith Humphries from Stanford University, and Dr Marcia Ferri from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Alcohol Addiction) published the most comprehensive study ever done on the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In this groundbreaking study, these scientists found that AA had similar or better results than many of the traditional treatment protocols like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This was an incredible finding!
The great thing about AA is that there are free meetings in nearly every community in the US and in almost every country in the world. AA is an accessible public health resource for addiction for anyone, anywhere, at almost any time. Most people can find a group that includes or caters to their gender, race, sexual orientation, age group or their community. Today, meetings are also online through Zoom.
Millions of people around the world, including many adolescents and young adults, are in recovery and living happy and connected lives because of AA.
In our case, my son combined professional treatment with AA support. AA and professional treatment can be very complementary and powerful. Stevie found a fantastic young person’s AA meeting in our community that became his original “home” group. After six years of sobriety, Stevie still attends AA meetings regularly. He finds them very valuable.
How does it work?
The researchers found that there were many elements that contributed to these outstanding results:
- AA groups are a social network, a community of like- minded people. People feel connected.
- AA groups have numerous positive role models which brings great hope to the members.
- AA utilizes sponsorship and mentorship to help the new members.
- AA members learn coping skills from the other members.
- AA meetings help reduce cravings and increase motivation for abstinence.
The AA tradition of helping others actually helps the helper. For those addicted to drugs, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), is founded on the same principles as AA and has similar results.