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A.A. Benefits Men and Women Differently

By December 6, 2012

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Although participation in Alcoholics Anonymous, combined with other types of treatment programs, benefit both men and women, the way that A.A. helps each gender is different. The benefits that men receive from A.A. are not that important to women, and the benefits women receive are not that helpful for men.

The differences, researchers believe, show areas in which men and women can focus their efforts to achieve greater recovery.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed data from more than 1,700 participants in the Project MATCH trial who attended A.A. meetings along with other approaches to treatment. Of those participants, 24% were female.

John F. Kelly, PhD and Bettina B. Hoeppner, PdD, authors of the study, looked at the participants' success in maintaining sobriety, but also at the behavior changes that supported successful A.A. participation.

Gender-Based Differences

The study was reportedly the first to examine whether the benefits of A.A. were different for men and women. Their findings include:

  • For both men and women, A.A. increased their confidence in the ability to cope with high-risk drinking situations and increased their sober social contacts.

  • For men, the ability to cope with high-risk social situations where people are likely to be drinking was more important. This was not a big factor for women.

  • For women, learning how to avoid drinking when they felt sad, depressed or anxious was most important. This factor was almost absent in men.

Helps With Abstinence, Drinking Intensity

The study found that the above benefits not only helped men and women maintain abstinence, but also to limit the number of drinks they had if they did have a relapse.

"In terms of alcoholism recovery more generally, we found the ability to handle negative moods and emotions was important for women but not for men," Kelly said in a news release. "Conversely, coping with high-risk social situations - which could be attending sports or other events where people are likely to drink - was important for men but not women."

The authors suggest that finding alternative ways to cope with negative emotions would benefit women in recovery, while focusing on coping with high-risk social occasions would enhance the recovery of men.

Source: Kelly, JF, et al. "Does Alcoholics Anonymous work differently for men and women? A moderated multiple-mediation analysis in a large clinical sample." Drug and Alcohol Dependence 30 November 2012

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December 10, 2012 at 11:04 am
(1) artashes2 says:

This article and ALL the links are oriented towards the Bill Wilson AA model as are Gamblers Anon, Narcotics Anon and many other groups that are oriented for addicts.
What about Smart Recovery, or Rational Recovery and others that don’t use the “Higher Power” paradigm. Those groups in my eyes are worth much much more, besides a lot of agencies “Re-hab” centers charge an arm and leg for their clients. Promoting the AA Model to the exclusion of alternative therapies. This is a huge rip-off and you from About.com are fueling this mad rush to lean towards a “Higher Power”!
Boozing is a bad habit period. Quit the habit and you will be free and clear of it and not having to get up each time at an AA meeting and bellow, “I’m a RECOVERING Alcoholic and will be one for the rest of my life” This lines the pockets of AA agencies etc, even though itís a so-called “Non-Profit” agency yet Government, Social Services, Doctors, Hospitals ALL leech on these patients and bleed them dry of their money.
I have never ever drunk nor smoked anything and eat only Raw Plant Based Foods. Why do these so-called “Helping agencies” NOT promote and tout healthy living, coupled with Yoga and Light weight training and plain old talk to a trusted friend about your drinking?
I shall never forget a saying that Bob Proctor, a motivational speaker have on a poster. “YOU ARE THE ONLY PROBLEM YOU WILL EVER HAVE, AND BABY YOU ARE THE ONLY SOLUTION” attributed to Ray Stanford.
Do some research and stop promoting the AA Model ONLY!

December 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm
(2) Jeff says:

Artashes2 in his post above clearly does not have a good grasp or idea of the true AA program of recovery. Having worked the steps of AA I am not a recovering alcoholic, but a Recovered Alcoholic! I have recovered from the mental obsession of the disease of alcoholism and do not obsess about drinking anymore. Do I still have the physical allergy, yes and I always will. I continue to work the steps on a daily basis and attend meetings for one reason, to bring the program to the alcoholic who still suffers. There is no better way to live and today I am grateful for the program of AA

December 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm
(3) Dor says:

The headline says ‘AA’ so what were you expecting? Well written articles state the topic clearly and focus on that. It’s called sound journalism/editing.

“There is a solution” not “this is the only solution” … if it helps people, who are *you* to condemn? How dare you condemn people who see any of these group help or rehab or whatever to misery and death so, what? You can vent and feel good about yourself?

AA isnt a cure. Anyone can relapse. AA is not about promotion. AA does not demand belief in anything, including divinity, but rather a consideration it might exist. And the only true solution is change, something that is painful and uncomfortable but possible and more successful when not done in isolation.

You might want to get your story straight before you slam something so hard, because I believe my words have told you more about AA than when you posted in the first place. Nothing in this life is forever …

January 6, 2014 at 3:50 am
(4) DBC says:

Artashes2 is clearly not familiar with AA or other 12-Step programs. I’m only going to refute what he’s written so that someone who is legitimately curious about AA does not get the wrong idea.

AA is free, and requires no membership dues or fees. AA IS self-supporting through voluntary member contributions, which means it receives no funding from government sources or donations from non-members. People are free to contribute as little or as much as they’re able or willing. Nobody is counting how much you contribute, and nobody will be thrown for being broke. The only requirement for AA membership is a sincere desire to stop drinking.

Nobody is required to say anything at an AA meeting. AA will not tell you that you’re an alcoholic, nor will they force you to admit that you’re an alcoholic. The only requirement for AA membership is a sincere desire to stop drinking.

AA has a tradition of being based on attraction rather than promotion. We don’t actively promote the program, but we do provide information on our program for those that might be interested. People will need to make their own determination as to whether AA is appropriate for them. AA is not the only option for drink/drug issues. Those of us who consider ourselves members do so because we have found it to be of value to us. The Higher Power is understood in many different ways by AA members. It is not necessary for a person to be religious or to believe in any type of traditional concept of God as their higher power. <b>The only requirement for AA membership is a sincere desire to stop drinking!</b>

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