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AA Study: Alcoholics Who Help Others Most Likely to Stay Sober

AA study - Researchers say that while attending meetings improves your recovery odds, it’s helping others in the program that really makes the difference.

A lot of research shows that staying actively involved with AA increases your odds of maintaining sobriety, but going beyond that, is there any one aspect of the program that seems to help people the most?

That’s what Dr. Maria Pagano of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine wanted to know, and to find out, she studied data from Project MATCH, which was a 10 year long NIAAA sponsored study of alcoholism treatment outcomes across multiple sites.

She found that while simply showing up for AA meetings helped, people that got involved in helping others reaped the greatest benefits from their participation.

Helping Others Helps a Lot – The Results

  • People who got involved in AA helping activities, such as sponsoring and/or sharing experiences with others and 2 month service positions were less likely to be drinking and more likely to be interested in others at each follow up period over the 10 year study duration.
  • In addition to having more sober time, people involved in helping others within AA also attended more meetings, did more step work and felt a stronger connection to the program.


Speculating on why helping others has such a beneficial effect, Dr. Pagano wrote, “Being interested in others keeps you more connected to your program and pulls you out of the vicious cycle of extreme self-preoccupation that is a posited root of addiction.”

The full research results of the study, Helping Others are published in the Journal Substance Abuse.

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