AA members support each other by meeting regularly and “working” the Twelve Steps to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs (AA World Services, 1976).
Members recognize problem drinking and develop hope for recovery. They conduct a self-inventory of personal shortcomings, address the consequences of alcoholism, and make restitution for harmful actions. They engage in healthy behaviors including daily meditation, ongoing AA participation, and developing spirituality and serenity.
Members change maladaptive thoughts (known as “stinkin’ thinkin’”), make healthy choices (e.g., avoiding drinking events), and reach out to others who can support them in their recovery.
Because AA does not maintain membership records or conduct research (AA World Services, 2004), most studies of its effects have been conducted on those who attend AA following formal treatment.
While randomized designs comparing AA to no treatment are not likely to occur, numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce alcohol use and improved psychological and social functioning.