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Alcoholics Anonymous More Effective Than Other Treatments

AA/Twelve-Step Facilitation more effective for continuous abstinence than other clinical interventions

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF) interventions may be more effective than other established treatments for increasing abstinence in adults with alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to a review published online March 11 in the Cochrane Library.

John F. Kelly, Ph.D., from the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined whether AA and TSF interventions achieve important outcomes for adults with AUD. Data were included from 27 studies with 10,565 participants. AA/TSF was compared to psychological clinical interventions, including motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The researchers found that manualized AA/TSF interventions improved the rates of continuous abstinence at 12 months compared with other clinical interventions (risk ratio, 1.21; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.42); at 24 and 36 months, this effect remained consistent. AA/TSF performed as well as other clinical interventions at 12 months for the percentage of days abstinent (mean difference, 3.03; 95 percent confidence interval, −4.36 to 10.43); performance was better at 24 months (mean difference, 12.91; 95 percent confidence interval, 7.55 to 18.29) and 36 months (mean difference, 6.64; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.54 to 11.75). Nonmanualized AA/TSF seemed to perform as well as other clinical interventions at three to nine months of follow-up in terms of the proportion of participants completely abstinent.

“AA/TSF will probably produce substantial health care cost savings while simultaneously improving alcohol abstinence,” the authors write.

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