Do 12-Step Programs Really Work?

  • Topic Info:Alcoholics Anonymous, known as AA, was first originated in the 1930s in order to help those suffering from addiction.

    Throughout the decades, AA and many other 12-step programs have been the number one strategy used to fight and conquer alcoholism and many other addictions.

    However, researchers have been looking into the 12-step program to see if this is the best option for those looking to stay sober.

    Many studies have found the 12-step program method, specifically used in AA, does not always see successful results. In fact, these studies have identified success rates to be between five and ten percent.

    Why might this method fail more often than it succeeds?

    Some individuals might have a problem with how AA sets up its program; basically saying you are "powerless" against your addiction. Another reason why the 12-step program might fail is its faith-based principles. Some people have a hard time agreeing to this and "letting go" to a higher power.

    What are some alternative routes towards recovery and ways to get help that will work for you?

    In regards to substance use (and abuse) you're typically looked at as either an addict or not. In other words, you either have a problem or you don't. This leads to abstinence as the only recovery option. 

    Many recovery treatments are moving away from this notion that if you are in a 12-step program you have to remove alcohol from your life forever.

    Where can you go if you don't want to follow a 12-step program recovery plan?

    Alternatives Executive Director, Dr. Adi Jaffe, discusses the success rate of AA and other 12-step programs, as well as if it is the best option and what other treatment options are available for the type of treatment you're seeking.
  • Host: Melanie Cole, MS