If you’ve ever been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, you probably know it’s a pretty informal gathering. Anybody is welcome. The AA meetings are free of charge. All you have to do is show up and listen to other people share their experiences with alcoholism. But how much do these AA meetings really help? A new study that was recently published sheds some light on this question:
Findings from a 2015 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs indicated that, at the very least, people who went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were more likely to abstain from drinking than those who did not.
The study followed 614 people who had alcohol use disorder. Participants reported their attendance at AA meetings and whether they remained sober for six months or longer. It was found that patients who attended at least one AA meeting were 60% more likely to stay abstinent over the following six months compared to those who didn’t. Those with more than three years of sobriety were 50 percent less likely to relapse if they attended an average of two or more monthly AA meetings during that time period.
Three years later, the same researchers conducted a follow-up study and learned that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings could be even more helpful than they had initially thought.
In the three years since their original study, the same researchers conducted a follow-up study and learned that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings could be even more helpful than they had initially thought. In this new study, the team found that people who went to AA meetings could maintain abstinence from alcohol for at least two years after treatment ended. They also discovered that some of these individuals showed improvements in mental health and quality of life. These findings show how effective Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can be in helping people achieve long-term sobriety.
In addition to maintaining abstinence, people attending AA meetings saw improvements in several other areas of their lives.
- Improvements in mental health symptoms (depression, anxiety, and stress)
- Improvements in quality of life
- Improvements in social functioning (including relationships with friends and family)
- Improvements in spiritual well-being (a sense of purpose/meaning)
- Improvement in family relations (relationship with spouse/children/parents)
These findings suggest that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are beneficial not just because they help keep people sober but also because they improve many other aspects of their lives as well.
The researchers concluded that regular attendance at AA meetings — as well as getting into a sponsor relationship and reading materials from AA — improved mental health symptoms and quality of life.
They also found that people who participated in all three areas experienced the most benefits, with those who participated in just one or two of the areas reporting less positive outcomes.
The authors wrote: “Our findings suggest that individuals seeking help for substance use disorders should be encouraged to attend 12-step programs.”
“Our findings suggest that the benefits associated with mutual aid are not only related to abstaining from alcohol but also improving one’s quality of life in general,” lead researcher Lee Ann Kaskutas said in a statement.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are a great way to get support, learn about the 12 steps and 12 traditions, and learn the 12 concepts.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that people with alcohol use disorder who attended at least one AA meeting in the past month were likelier to report abstinence from alcohol than those who did not.
This is promising news for anyone who is struggling with their drinking and wants to get help from Alcoholics Anonymous. The data shows that AA meetings are even more helpful than we may have thought initially and that people can reap the benefits of attending AA meetings in ways other than just abstaining from alcohol. Don’t lose hope; if you are considering joining AA, find the nearest AA meeting available in your area using our website.