Alcoholics Anonymous Reduces Depression

AA Recovery brings not only recovery but a community of support

At some point in your life, you may have had a terrible breakup with the man or woman of your dreams or may have been laid-off from your job that you worked your entire career to get.  Perhaps you were having problems with your family in your teen years. Feeling depressed, you turned to the bottle and decided to drown your sorrows.  Before you know it, you had developed a dependency to alcohol.

It has been observed that many people who are alcoholics also may be suffering from depression.

A recent study found that a main reason Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are so successful in getting people to stop drinking is that attending them helps to alleviate depression.

The Study Setup

John F. Kelly, PhD, who is an associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine, led a team study to discover the underlying mechanisms that produce behavioral change with AA.  The team found that one of the big reasons attending AA meetings helps cure alcoholism is that they help with improving depression symptoms.

The study team looked at data from Project MATCH, a federally funded trial which lasted 15 months, included 1,700 participants, and compared three treatment approaches for alcohol use disorder. Each participant was randomly assigned a specific treatment plan while all were able to attend AA meetings.  Data was gathered during several points of the study and tracked participants’ alcohol consumption, the number of AA meetings each attended, and their recent symptoms of depression.

In their initial evaluation before the study started, as typical for those suffering from alcoholism, participants reported greater symptoms of depression as normally seen in the general population.

Findings of the Study

The research team discovered that those who attended AA meetings at a frequent rate had fewer symptoms of depression as the study proceeded.  At the same time, they drank less frequently and intensively compared to those participants who did not attend AA meetings.

The reason for this correlation may lie in the social aspects of AA.  Going to these meetings may help people “feel better” emotionally, as well as psychologically.  These feelings may replace their need to drink.  Depression and regulation of mood are common issues with people who have problems with alcohol and drinking could exacerbate the problem.

Depression is not something that is explicitly addressed through AA, however, the program’s social fellowship was designed with support of their participants’ sense of well being in mind.  Just simply abstaining from drinking could improve your mood after several weeks, but attending AA accelerates the progress.

Attending Alcoholics Anonymous After Treatment

To cure dependence on alcohol or other drugs, treatment is suggested in addition to attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous or other support programs.  As shown in the study, in addition to helping you stay away from drinking, programs such as AA, will more quickly improve your psychological well-being and general mood.  Get control of your drinking today and enjoy a higher quality of life.  Call us today to have all your questions answered and start on the path to treatment.

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