How effective is Alcoholics Anonymous?

26 Dec

Researchers have long questioned the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of the claims made on its behalf are anecdotal and, thus, of little scientific value. Research has been hampered by the lack of randomized control trials. This type of analysis is especially important. Without it, one could not rule out the possibility that people who have had success with AA were self selected and it was some characteristic of those individuals that caused their success and not the AA program.

Recent research, however, casts new light on AA and suggests that the program itself might be effective. Here is a summary by Keith Humphreys. And here is his paper. From its conclusion:

“For most individuals seeking help for alcohol problems, increasing AA attendanceleads to short- and long-term decreases in alcohol consumption that cannot be attributed to self-selec-tion. However, for populations with high preexisting AA involvement, further increases in AA atten-dance may have little impact.”

Humphreys also has this piece in The Washington Post:

‘Studies such as these dramatically reduced the ranks of AA critics among scientists. AA’s value is still questioned in a few quarters, but as Harvard Professor of Psychiatry John Kelly notes, this is becoming less true as the years go by: “The stronger scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of AA is relatively new. It takes time for evidence to disseminate into clinical practice as well as into broader society.”’


One Response to “How effective is Alcoholics Anonymous?”


  1. Joe McC of Joe & Charlie passed away at 1:45pm on November 24, 2014 - Recovery Referrals - December 29, 2014

    […] How effective is Alcoholics Anonymous? […]

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