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Alcoholics anonymous: come for sobriety and stay for the fellowship

An open-ended questionnaire regarding various aspects of the mutual-help program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was administered to a sample of 25 AA members. The questionnaire was designed to examine which elements of the AA program members considered most important in helping them overcome problems with alcohol. The data were also analyzed to determine which program element(s) were most responsible for maintaining membership in the organization. Our typical sample member was in their 30’s, a member of AA for at least 5 years, attended between 8 and 15 meetings a month, and became involved with AA through an order of the court or hospitalization. Our primary findings were that the spiritual, affiliative, and cognitive aspects were perceived as being most important. Although for most of the members surveyed, the entire program (i.e. the twelvesteps, ‘Big Book,’ meetings and sponsor etc.) was perceived as critical in making it possible for them to overcome alcohol problems. Some evidence was found forthe importance of ‘fellowship,’ broadly defined, in terms of the retention of members. The relation of these findings to earlier work on AA and 12-Step groupsin general is discussed.

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