Alcoholics Anonymous and Reduced Impulsivity: A Novel Mechanism of Change
ABSTRACT Reduced impulsivity is a novel, yet plausible, mechanism of change associated with the salutary effects of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Here, the authors review their work on links between AA attendance and reduced impulsivity using a 16-year prospective study of men and women with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) who were initially untreated for their drinking problems. Across the study period, there were significant mean-level decreases in impulsivity, and longer AA duration was associated with reductions in impulsivity. In turn, decreases in impulsivity from baseline to Year 1 were associated with fewer legal problems and better drinking and psychosocial outcomes at Year 1, and better psychosocial functioning at Year 8. Decreases in impulsivity mediated associations between longer AA duration and improvements on several Year 1 outcomes, with the indirect effects conditional on participants? age. Findings are discussed in terms of their potential implications for research on AA and, more broadly, interventions for individuals with AUDs.