Alcoholics Anonymous Treatment
Of all the treatments for alcohol misuse, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is probably the most well known.
In AA, a form of "self-help" treatment, participants take part in a series of mental, written and verbal activities that can lead to recovery and abstinence.
In one study, alcoholic patients who received inpatient and outpatient psychotherapy, as well as AA, had better outcomes than those patients who attended only one kind of treatment.
It is thought that AA helps people because it provides a new social network that replaces the alcohol abuser’s usual group of friends who drink with him or her, and provides a fellowship that inspires motivation and lends support toward the goal of reaching and maintaining abstinence.
AA also teaches a set of coping skills so that, when stressed, the alcohol abuser has more constructive ways of coping, and does not need to turn to alcohol to escape his or her problems.
Another study, conducted at a Department of Veteran Affairs hospital, indicated that those alcoholic patients who underwent either cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a 12-step program in combination with CBT did better, over the long run, than those who participated in the 12-step program alone. (CBT entails learning coping skills, new ways of interpreting and reacting to stressful situations, and changing one’s destructive or maladaptive behavior patterns.) The patients who received the combination treatment stayed sober longer and were able to hold down a job for longer periods than those patients who received only CBT.
Both of these studies seem to show that a combination of some kind of psychotherapy and a 12-step program such as AA produces the most beneficial results for patients who use alcohol in excess.