Saturday, December 4, 2010

What do studies say about efficacy of AA's 12 Step Program?

A friend of mine, Rajiv Bhole, a self professed realist, linked a story from Washington Post about Lindsey Lohan and the new found fascination with celebrity dependency and dysfunction documentation.  I have some idea of statistical models for measuring treatment success rates, from WHO to Kripa Foundation to mom and pop operations, some of which are outright violations of all things sacred, and usually executed in the name of the very sacredness it defiles.

WP says, "Although AA's emphasis on anonymity makes it difficult for outside researchers to determine its success rates, some have tried. What they have found doesn't inspire much confidence in AA's approach. A recent review by the Cochrane Library, a health-care research group, of studies on alcohol treatment conducted between 1966 and 2005 states its results plainly: "No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF [12-step facilitation] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems."

Many health conditions resolve themselves through what's known as spontaneous remission -- that is, they improve on their own. In the case of the common cold, for example, nearly everyone gets over the virus without medical intervention. In a 2005 article in the journal Addiction, Deborah A. Dawson and her colleagues calculated a natural recovery rate for alcoholism of 24.4 percent -- that is, over the course of a year, 24.4 percent of the alcoholics studied simply wised up, got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and quit. Without treatment and without meetings.

Why don't we delve into our own Doctus and learn to get better?