Alcoholics Anonymous Success Rate

At Sierra by the Sea, we introduce our clients to the 12 Step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 12 Step programs not only allows clients to relate to others battling the same addictions, but also build a community of support, post rehab discharge.

There are many mixed opinions around 12 Step programs. Some doctors and professionals are fans, while others encourage other methods for recovery. A common slogan within the 12 Step community is, “It works if you work it.” Outside of slogans, the following studies are the facts on programs:

Studies of AA’s efficacy have produced inconsistent results. While some studies have suggested an association between AA attendance and increased abstinence or other positive outcomes, other studies have not. A Cochrane Review of eight studies, published between 1967 and 2005, measuring the effectiveness of AA, found “no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” in treating alcoholism, based on a meta-analysis of the results of eight trials involving a total of 3,417 individuals. To determine further the effectiveness of AA, the authors suggested that more studies comparing treatment outcomes with control groups were necessary.

Every three years since 1968, AA has issued a pamphlet summarizing its latest survey of meeting attendants. The 1990 commentary evaluated data of surveys from 1977 through 1989 and found that one quarter (26%) of those who first attend an AA meeting are still attending after one year. Furthermore, nearly one third (31.5%) leave the program after one month, and by the end of the third month, over half (52.6%) leave. After the first year, the rate of attrition slows. Only those in the first year were recorded by month. About 40% of the members sober for less than a year will remain another year. About 80% of those sober more than one year, but less than five years will remain sober and active in the fellowship another year. About 90% of the members sober five years or more will remain sober and active in the fellowship another year. Those who remained sober outside the fellowship could not be calculated using the survey results.

Sierra by the Sea has found that people struggling with addictions, struggle in many aspects of life; job, relationships, mental health, etc. A 12 Step program is an effective tool in having a cost free, consistent, safe place to hash out the anxiety and traumas of everyday life. The ability to discuss ones stresses makes the individual less likely to participate in their self-harming addictive behavior. The accountability of peers and sponsors helps an individual stay on track of their life goals and daily recovery. 

Recovering from substance use disorders is a challenging journey that feels more doable in an environment that tends to each individual’s complex needs and strengths. Our goal is to foster a treatment experience that is built on compassion, hope, and caring, and fueled by excellence in the provision of evidence-based and trauma-informed care.

– - Anonymous