A new study comparing Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to alternative mutual help groups find these groups perform about as well as 12-step programs, Vox reports.
The study compared AA, the original 12-step program, with the three biggest alternative mutual help groups: Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery and LifeRing.
The researchers surveyed more than 600 people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) who were involved in one of the groups studied. They followed up at six months and 12 months, measuring abstinence from drinking and alcohol-related problems. After controlling for several factors, the researchers concluded that these alternative groups are as effective as 12-step groups for those with AUDs. The findings appear in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
“This study suggests that these alternatives really are viable options for people who are looking for recovery support and don’t like AA for whatever reason,” said lead researcher Sarah Zemore of the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, CA.