Helping Others Helps Alcoholics

12 step addiction recoveryAA members who become sponsors or help their fellow alcoholics are more likely to recover.Alcoholics who help others in a 12 step program are more likely to stay clean according to a new study.

The 10 year perspective study found that recovering alcoholics who helped other alcoholics in a 12 step program stayed sober longer, were more considerate of others, went further in their work on the 12 steps and attended support meetings longer.

The study was let by  Maria Pagano, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the "Helping Others" study. She and her colleagues used data from a site called Project MATCH which is the largest multi-site randomized clinical trial on behavioural treatments of alcoholism.

Over its 10 year run, the study focused on people working a 12 step program as part of Alcoholics Anonymous. For those who participated in Alcoholics Anonymous-related helping, (AAH) there was a lower risk of alcohol use and an increased interest in others.

"Our study is the first to explore the 10-year course of engagement in programmatic 12-step activities and their simultaneous influence on long-term outcomes," says Dr. Pagano. "The AAH findings suggest the importance of getting active in service, which can be in a committed 2-month AA service position or as simple as sharing one's personal experience in recovery to another fellow sufferer."

AAH also appears to help people get further in their step work. It also encourages people to attend more meetings than those who did not engage in AAH. Overall, the Alcoholics Anonymous-related helping seems to harden peoples resolve to finish the program.

"Consequently, 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," says Dr. Pagano.

This new study not only proves the value helping others recover, it could present a whole new way type of recovery and treatment for alcohol addiction.

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