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Does The 12 Step Philosophy Really Work?

Project Match is an infamous study, one of the first to dive deeply into the debate of Alcoholics Anonymous and the efficiency of the twelve steps as a viable form of treatment. 900 drinkers were split into three groups to receive one of three treatments, either using AA-based treatment which utilizes the 12 steps and emphasizes attendance of meetings, cognitive behavioral therapy, or motivational enhancement therapy. Problematically, there was not a fourth group of individuals who had to quit drinking on their own.

Conclusively, the study found that the twelve step approach combining the attendance of meetings and utilizing the program of the twelve steps worked as well as other treatment methods, according to Scientific American. Citing another study, the article points out that in 2006 a Stanford University professor found that AA worked remarkably well. This study followed problem drinkers for an astonishing 16 years. The drinkers had either quit on their own, attended AA, or worked with therapists. “Of those who attended at least 27 weeks of AA meetings during the first year,” Scientific American writes, “67% were abstinent at the 16-year follow-up,” the remaining 34% did not participate in AA in any way. For the participants who received therapy, 56% remained abstinent 16 years later.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the use of any twelve step program is not meant to be an exclusive treatment method, or a treatment method at all. The steps are called suggestions and a program of recovery. Within the primary text of the group, The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, the authors encourage people to work with therapists. A vast majority of treatment facilities today are 12 step based or utilize 12 step philosophy. Though this raises controversy because AA is not scientifically based, once one reads a section of the book titled The Doctor’s Opinion, they see points which directly correlate to many of today’s “evidence-based” treatment methods.

The twelve step approach does not work for everyone. Relapse can happen at any point in time throughout someone’s life if they let down their routine of recovery, which does not have to include AA. For those who adhere to the program, continue therapy, and create meaning in their new sober lives, long term, even lifelong abstinence is completely possible.

Enlightened Solutions believes in the spiritual solution of the twelve step philosophy and utilizes integrative holistic approaches to support proven clinical methods. Our partial care programs are designed to heal alcoholism and addiction in mind, body, and spirit. For more information, call 833-801-5483.

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