Alcoholics Anonymous is a global fellowship of individuals that seek sobriety. It’s been considered the most effective abstinence path. This fellowship helps individuals achieve sobriety more than therapy. Essentially, Alcoholics Anonymous is an international organization that comprises peer support groups. It provides a chance for individuals suffering from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder to support one another.

Meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are held regularly. During these meetings, members discuss concerns and issues about addiction. They also support one another through relapses and triumphs. Seasoned members can also sponsor those new to the organization. That means they can guide them to ensure that they work the steps successfully.

But, how effective are online АA meetings? Well, the effectiveness of AA can be attributed to the fact that social interaction is its basis. Members share practical tips at aa support groups online (Addiction Resource provides more info) to avoid drinking while supporting each other emotionally.

When people want to change their behavior, they should look for others trying to achieve the same change. That’s what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about.

What Research Says

Research has shown that people with alcohol issues are more likely to abstain if they participate in AA and formal treatment than if they only undergo formal treatment for 1 to 3 years.To determine the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous, a Stanford researcher alongside two collaborators engaged in an extensive review of studies done on AA. They established that AA fellowship helps individuals achieve sobriety than formal therapy.

The researcher and collaborators evaluated 35 studies that involved the results of 10,080 participants and works by 145 scientists. Keith Humphreys, the researcher, who is a professor of behavioral sciences and psychiatry, and fellow investigators revealed numerous benefits of АA meetings.

The researchers found that the effectiveness of AA was more than that of psychotherapy when it comes to achieving abstinence. What’s more, most studies revealed that participating in AA lowered the costs of healthcare.

Skepticism about Alcoholics Anonymous

Millions of people across the globe are members of АA support groups online. That’s because AA is a well-known organization. But, mental health experts have sometimes expressed skepticism about its effectiveness. Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to offer motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. These are treatments for alcohol use disorder. But, they have a difficult time trying to admit that the persons running AA groups are doing a better job by keeping individuals on the wagon despite being laypeople.

Essentially, mental health experts don’t understand how laypeople can do the things they have acquired several degrees to ensure that they do them properly. But, counseling may be designed in a way that enhances AA engagement. This can be described as an “extended, warm handoff into the fellowship”.  In their review, Humphreys and collaborators evaluated the 12-step facilitation and AA counseling.

The first step of the AA program is accepting the inability to control one’s drinking. The last step is to help others maintain sobriety by sponsoring a new member. Today, 24 hour АA chat rooms online enable individuals from different parts of the world to get peer support at any time. The AA model is free and open to everybody. It has more than 2 million members across 180 nations with over 118,000 groups.

AA Shines

In 2006, researchers performed a detailed review of the effectiveness of AA. This review involved 8 studies and it showed that no sufficient evidence could help them determine whether Alcoholics Anonymous was more effective than most of the other methods.  

But, studies that have evaluated AA based on abstinence have established that it is significantly better than no intervention or other interventions. For instance, one study has established that AA is 60% more effective and no study has established that AA is less effective.

In studies that evaluated outcomes instead of complete abstinence, Alcoholics Anonymous was found effective. In studies where costs were considered, significant savings were associated with participation in AA. For instance, one study found that 12-step facilitation counseling and AA reduced the cost of mental health by $10,000 per individual.

Researchers considered AA studies only. That means they excluded organizations that focus on addiction to other drugs and Alcoholics Anonymous. Although AA review was beyond their study scope, Humphreys says it’s suggestive that AA methods work for individuals that use cocaine and heroin too.

The review’s findings were consistent in terms of whether the participants were elderly, young, veterans, civilians, females, and males. And the reviewed studies were done in 5 different countries. But, how long do АA meetings last? Well, an AA meeting can take about an hour. However, Humphreys and collaborators established that AA’s method work.

Humphreys added that he is validated to advise many people to try AA. It’s always been good advice and it continues to be. Humphreys is a Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute member at Stanford. No organization or institution funded the review.