Author: James Anderson

CBT and DBT in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

alcoholics anonymous therapy

This Cochrane review looks at the effects of these programs on reducing alcohol consumption and the effects of heavy drinking (such as physical health, family, or employment problems), and enhancing long-term abstinence. The authors of the review also examined whether AA and TSF programs reduce healthcare costs compared to other treatments. Twelve-step facilitation programs adopt some of the principles and techniques of AA and are delivered by clinicians.

alcoholics anonymous therapy

They are aimed at engaging people within AA during and after treatment for alcohol use disorder. Some of these programs follow a manual, so that the same treatment can be delivered at different times and places. Although AA is well-known and used by millions around the world, mental health professionals are sometimes skeptical of its effectiveness, Humphreys said. Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people on the wagon. The authors found high certainty evidence that clinically delivered and manualized TSF programs designed to increase AA participation can lead to higher rates of continuous abstinence over months and years, when compared to other active treatment approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The evidence suggests that 42 % of participants participating in AA would remain completely abstinent one year later, compared to 35% of participants receiving other treatments including CBT.

Stanford School of Medicine

It is also common for an individual in AA to simultaneously not want to give up drinking and still want to drink. Individuals who have had similar experiences can relate. If individual therapy and peer-led support groups are not feeling helpful in your recovery, other supportive options may include rehab facilities and demographic-specific group therapy.

In therapy, you are free to detail your experiences and process in whatever way you feel best. Substance use and addiction can take a toll over time on relationships both personally and professionally. Some individuals may have lost loved ones or jobs due to their drinking or misuse. There can be significant grief related to these losses, and having group support to get through those losses can be vital in the recovery process. Oftentimes, addiction occurs because of various life events and factors. Others in AA meetings may have had similar experiences, thoughts, or feelings surrounding their substance use.

  1. One of the fundamental tenets of the program is that members continue attending meetings long after they have completed the 12 steps and that they mentor newer members.
  2. The 12 Steps are a structured view of the recovery process and offer the space to discuss and process current step work.⁴ In AA, discussions can vary, including discussing feelings about recovery, 12-step work, and more.
  3. “It absolutely does work,” he said of AA’s method.
  4. Recovery works through one alcoholic sharing their experience with another.

These groups may provide some psycho-education, as well as group processing. The previous Cochrane review published in 2006 was based on the eight available studies including a few thousand participants. The quantity and quality of the research has increased substantially since then. Twenty-seven studies are now included in this updated Cochrane review, comprising 10,565 people. The studies included in this update examined a range of programs that differed in their approach and intensity, and these were compared against other programs and different treatments for alcohol use disorder.

Topics That Should Be Discussed with a Therapist

However, with the right combination of support and tools, you can manage AUD. Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit A Stanford researcher and two collaborators conducted an extensive review of Alcoholics Anonymous studies and found that the fellowship helps more people achieve sobriety than therapy does.

Oftentimes, individuals dealing with problematic alcohol use also have underlying co-morbid conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders.⁶ While AA may touch on these topics within the group, having a therapist to talk to outside of a 12-Step program allows for greater individual processing. Twelve-Step support, like AA, tends to be more structured advice or suggestion-driven, based on the personal experiences of the group members. When you notice the AA format isn’t working, or is not as effective as it once was, it may be time to see a therapist. Therapy is an opportunity to receive nonjudgmental, evidence-based treatment tailored specifically to you and your unique situation from a licensed mental health professional. Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous or any other mutual support groups, which are peer-led, therapy is facilitated by a mental health or substance abuse professional, such as a psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a marriage and family therapist (MFT), or licensed professional counselor (LPC). Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a prevalent, world-wide problem, and in some countries it is accelerating.

alcoholics anonymous therapy

A.A.’s program of recovery is built on the simple foundation of one alcoholic sharing with another. AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one’s inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model — open to all and free — has spread around the globe, and AA now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups. Humphreys noted that counseling can be designed to facilitate engagement with AA — what he described as “an extended, warm handoff into the fellowship.” For the review article, Humphreys and his colleagues evaluated both AA and 12-step facilitation counseling. The review was published March 11 in Cochrane Database of Systematic Review.

The Evidence on Alcoholics Anonymous

This effect is achieved largely by fostering increased AA participation beyond the end of the TSF program. Peer-led groups, like AA, provide individuals with the opportunity to learn from others’ coping skills and receive support from others who know what you are experiencing. The 12 Steps are a structured view of the recovery process and offer the space to discuss and process current step work.⁴ In AA, discussions can vary, including discussing feelings about recovery, 12-step work, and more. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs.

What Can You Discuss in Peer-Led Groups?

Cochrane requires its authors to undertake a rigorous process that ensures the studies represented in its summaries are high-quality and the review of evidence is unbiased. If someone you care about has a drinking problem, A.A. Has helped more than two million alcoholics stop drinking. Recovery works through one alcoholic sharing their experience with another.