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Review Sees No Advantage in 12-Step Programs

Rating

4 Star

Review Sees No Advantage in 12-Step Programs

Our Review Summary

The story does a good job discussing contributing factors to alcoholism and putting the results of a recent Cochrane review in perspective.
There is a lack of literature explicitly supporting Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and demonstrating its effectiveness, yet it remains a heavily-relied-upon mode of management of alcoholism. This news article highlights the finding of weak support for A.A. While there are some problems with the source study, the reporting on it is clear and fair. The story notes that 12-step self-help programs are not a panacea, and the study showed that these programs were not superior to other psychological interventions for reducing alcohol dependence. About one-fifth of alcoholics remain sober without any treatment.

Researchers in the field of addictions research and treatment are cited, noting that people often attend A.A. meetings as only one component of their treatment; other forms of psychological treatment and/or medications to reduce cravings and treat underlying psychiatric conditions may also be part of treatment. however, medications to treat alcoholism are not discussed in this article. The story also fails to mention that A.A. is free, and it may help with long-term sobriety because it so accessible to recovering alcoholics. This would be important to note when discussing comparisons with time-limited and costly psychological interventions for alcohol dependence.

Lastly, some addictions researchers feel that continued sobriety involves changing one’s social environment to prevent relapse. A.A. and similar 12-step programs provide on-going social and emotional support for members. A.A. may not be an improvement over other psychological interventions for reducing alcohol consumption, but it is widely accessible and a viable option for people who prefer mutual-help support groups. The story could have done a better job providing this context.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The cost of treatment is not provided. It would be important to note that A.A. might be a preferred option for relapse prevention because it is free, meetings widely-available, and it is not time-limited, like many forms of psychotherapy.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story provides no quantification of benefit of A.A. and 12-step groups as treatments, however, the story discusses a metaanalysis comparing 12-step programs to other psychological forms of treatment for alcohol dependence. The story notes that 12-step programs were not superior to other interventions to reduce alcohol dependence, and in genereal, about one-fifth of alcoholics remain sober without any treatment. A.A. and 12-step self-help groups may not be an improvement over other psychological interventions for reducing alcohol consumption, but they are an option for people who prefer mutual-help groups.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

There is no mention of the harms of treatment, however, the story notes that A.A. and 12-step programs are not a panacea for alcohol dependence, as they do not work for everyone. The story does cite researchers in the field of addictions research and treatment who note that people often attend A.A.meetings as only one component of their treatment.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story discusses the design and some of the methodological issues of the metaanalysis comparing 12-step programs to other psychological interventions for reducing alcohol dependence and improving retention in treatment.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering. The story appropriately provides information from the study and discusses contributing factors of alcohol dependence, including genetics, environmental causes and/or emotional stress.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story does an excellent job of putting the results of this study in perspective by interviewing experts in the field of addiction treatment and research.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions several treatment options compared with, on in conjunction to 12-step groups.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story explains Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar 12-step self-help programs for reducing alcohol dependence. The story does not mention that A.A. groups are widely available to anyone regardless of finances, and many groups allow people to attend any meeting without prior membership in the group. This would be important to note when discussing comparisons with more time-limited and potentially costly psychological treatments.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

A.A. has been around since the 1930s and its’ mutual self-help groups are not a new approach to relapse prevention for alcoholics.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Information in this story does not appear to be taken from a press release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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