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Studies Show Alcoholics Anonymous Is Ineffective (From Alcoholism, P 72-81, 1994, Carol Wekesser, ed. -- See NCJ-160630)

NCJ Number
C Bufe
Date Published
10 pages
Although Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is touted as the best method for treating alcoholism, studies show that only a small percentage of those exposed to AA's 12-step program recover from their addiction.
There have been only two well-designed studies of the effectiveness of AA, i.e., studies that have included control groups and the random assignment of subjects. Both studies showed that AA is not an effective, across-the-board treatment for alcoholism. The subjects in both studies were, however, court- referred alcoholic offenders and hence different from the general alcoholic population in certain respects; however, since a large number of current AA participants are coerced into attendance either by alcoholism treatment programs or the courts, through programs for drunk-driving offenders, the populations of these studies may not have been as different from the general AA population as one might suspect. These findings do not imply that AA is useless as a treatment for alcoholism. One of the current trends in alcoholism treatment is "client matching," i.e., the matching of clients to particular treatments based upon the clients' needs, personalities, and social characteristics. It is logical that the characteristics of those for whom AA is an appropriate treatment would generally match the characteristics of those already succeeding in the program. Ogborne and Glaser list the characteristics of successful AA members as "male, over forty years of age, white, middle or upper class, socially stable,..." binge/heavy drinker, physical dependency, and loss of control when drinking, "authoritarian personality, high affiliative needs, high group dependency needs, prone to guilt, external locus of control...cognitive simplicity, low conceptual level...religious orientation...conformity orientation, deindividuation potential."