Outcome of treatment for alcohol abuse and involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous among previously untreated problem drinkers.
A sample of 515 initially untreated problem drinkers was followed for one year after contacting alcohol information and referral or detoxification services. At a one-year follow-up, participants had self-selected into one of four groups: no treatment (24%), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) only (18%), outpatient treatment (25%), and residential or inpatient treatment (32%); some outpatients also attended AA, and some inpatients also attended AA and/or outpatient programs. These four groups were compared on changes in drinking-related variables, other aspects of functioning, and stressors and resources over the follow-up year. Also examined were associations between amount of treatment and outcomes at one year. All four groups improved on drinking and functioning outcomes but changed less on stressors and resources. Although individuals who received no help improved, persons in the two treatment and the AA-only groups improved more, particularly on drinking-related outcomes. Inpatients were more likely than outpatients or AA-only participants to be abstinent; otherwise, type of intervention had few differential effects. More AA attendance was associated with abstinence among AA-only, outpatient, and inpatient group members. Among outpatients and inpatients, more formal treatment was associated with abstinence and improvement on other drinking-related outcomes.