What can be confidently said about AA in general and about the role of spirituality in AA in particular?
- First, there is convincing evidence that alcoholism severity predicts later AA attendance.
- Second, atheists are less likely to attend AA, relative to individuals who already hold spiritual and/or religious beliefs. However, belief in God before AA attendance does not offer any advantage in AA-related benefits, and atheists, once involved, are at no apparent disadvantage in deriving AA-related benefits.
- Third, the spiritually-based principles of AA appear to be endorsed in AA meetings regardless of the perceived social dynamics or climate of a particular meeting, eg, highly cohesive or aggressive.
- Fourth, significant increases in spiritual and religious beliefs and practices seem to occur among AA-exposed individuals.
- Fifth, in spite of much discussion to the contrary there is little evidence that spirituality directly accounts for later abstinence.
We are finding, however, that spirituality has an important indirect effect in predicting later drinking reductions. Specifically, in the past 20 years a number of effective methods have been developed to facilitate initial AA attendance. Such as Brief-TSF.
Interventions that lead to initial increases in spirituality appear to lead to sustained AA affiliation, which, in turn, produces sustained recovery over time.
Research; Tonigan JS. Spirituality and alcoholics anonymous. South Med J. 2007 Apr;100(4):437-40.