Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes do not reduce the severity of addictions any more than other interventions, a new study concludes.
A review of eight trials involving 3 417 men and women ages 18 and older, led by Marica Ferri of the Italian Agency for Public Health in Rome, found no evidence that 12-step interventions were any more or less successful in increasing the number of people who stayed in treatment or reducing the number who relapsed after being sober, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
In some of the studies reviewed, AA was compared with other psychological treatments including cognitive-behavioural therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and relapse-prevention therapy. The group was also compared with other spiritual and nonspiritual 12-step programmes. Scientists found no proof that any of the therapies were superior to any other intervention in reducing alcohol dependence or alcohol-related problems.
The findings were published in The Cochrane Library, a journal devoted to systematic reviews of health care interventions.
An Alcoholics Anonymous staffer told the Times that the organisation did not comment on published studies of the programme, but some experts said the study conclusions would not change how the programmes are run.
"Traditionally we have no comment on outside issues," a local AA spokesperson told Health24. Though he declined to comment on the specific study, he did say that the effectiveness of the AA's 12-step programme has been sufficiently proven.
John F. Kelly, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, said he still believed that AA and other 12-step programmes were effective. The programmes are not cure-alls, Kelly told the newspaper, "but I would say at a minimum, they help." – (HealthDayNews)
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