Social network variables in Alcoholics Anonymous: A literature review

Center for Community Research, DePaul University, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.
Clinical Psychology Review (Impact Factor: 7.18). 04/2008; 28(3):430-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.014
Source: PubMed


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most commonly used program for substance abuse recovery and one of the few models to demonstrate positive abstinence outcomes. Although little is known regarding the underlying mechanisms that make this program effective, one frequently cited aspect is social support. In order to gain insight into the processes at work in AA, this paper reviewed 24 papers examining the relationship between AA and social network variables. Various types of social support were included in the review such as structural support, functional support, general support, alcohol-specific support, and recovery helping. Overall, this review found that AA involvement is related to a variety of positive qualitative and quantitative changes in social support networks. Although AA had the greatest impact on friend networks, it had less influence on networks consisting of family members or others. In addition, support from others in AA was found to be of great value to recovery, and individuals with harmful social networks supportive of drinking actually benefited the most from AA involvement. Furthermore, social support variables consistently mediated AA's impact on abstinence, suggesting that social support is a mechanism in the effectiveness of AA in promoting a sober lifestyle. Recommendations are made for future research and clinical practice.

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    • "al support groups that were associated with long - term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs : bonding and support ; obtaining an abstinence - focused role model ; and doing service work within the group ( Moos , 2007 ) . These findings were echoed in a review of 24 studies focusing on how AA membership benefits people with alcohol dependence ( Groh et al . , 2008 ) . Additional evidence about the mechanisms of action of AA membership comes from an analysis of data from 1 , 726 adults in the Project Match study ( Project"
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