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Social Connections are Crucial to a Successful Recovery Through Alcoholics Anonymous

There has long been a request for more research into not only the benefits of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous), but how those benefits are achieved. What is it about AA that helps get and keep people sober? I am sure anyone within the AA community would be able to list of several reasons, including: a sense of community, support in common struggles, accountability, having people to hang out with and seeing how we can have relationships and be social in sober situations. However, for research purposes, they have wanted to determine what parts of AA help people stay sober.

Previous Studies Show Benefits of AAteamwork-holding-hands1

  • Help people maintain motivation in sobriety
  • Help change social connections and support systems
  • Decreased depression
  • Increased spirituality
  • Helping to give individual confidence in their ability to stay sober in all social settings
  • Help create a sense of belonging, community and outreach

“AA is the most commonly sought source of help for alcohol and alcohol-related problems in the United States and has been shown to help people attain and maintain long-term recovery,” says John F. Kelly, PhD., the study leader from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in a new paper to appear in the journal Addiction. “This study is the first to investigate exactly how AA helps individuals recover by examining the independent effects of several mechanisms simultaneously”.

General Findings of AA Study: What Keeps People Sober?

  • Spending time with individuals who support recovery efforts: This goes along with the “change people, places and things” we so often hear is part of recovery. If people change not only behaviors, but the people they hang out with, it will support a better chance at recovery. It helps give individuals the confidence and hope that recovery and sobriety is possible. It gives people not only support, but a new community to engage in social settings.
  • There is support for the 90 meetings in 90 days mantra you hear so often about AA meetings: The more meetings you attend in the first 3 months of sobriety, the greater the chances are to stay sober for the next year.

“The results suggest that social context factors are key; the people who associate with individuals attempting to begin recovery can be crucial to their likelihood of success,” says Kelly.

Recovery and Support Systemssobersupportsystems_small

I have long been a supporter of creating communities of support to help people feel less alone, to give a place where people can talk safely, and be able to talk with people who have been through the struggle and can help show that recovery is indeed possible and is happening on a daily basis. I went to AA for months when I got out of rehab, often to two meetings a day, and hung out the rest of the day with people from the place playing games, to help me stay sober. Often when you leave rehab, the concern is you will not only return to the same old behaviors, but isolate or return to the people you had hung out with before. My biggest challenge was isolation. It was when hiding I was in the most danger. I found it empowering to be around other young people who had gotten sober and had long periods of sobriety. They showed me that you can live, be social and have fun while staying sober. That was a large gift I received from AA.

Although I do not go to AA now, I know the power of a sense of community and social connections in recovery. Whether we go to support groups, do online support chats, participate and blog, use twitter as a support tool, it is all about social connection. I believe it is one of the large keys to the recovery puzzle.

How crucial are social connections to your own recovery?

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6 thoughts on “Social Connections are Crucial to a Successful Recovery Through Alcoholics Anonymous”

  1. At the moment I am going through a nasty divorce . AA has been my lifeline , my husband described my addiction as a life style choise , so you can see the level of support I have had. I am now 5 yrs in recovery and go to meetings each week . To sit in AA with a group of like minded people is so very special. I could not survive with out this wonderful fellowship I am given love and support in bucket fulls. For me 28days in rehab got be sober , but aa and a 12 step programme keeps me sober xx

  2. Alcoholism is a disease of isolation. AA is built on healthy human relationships, I call it “boot camp for emotional cripples”. You can’t work the program at home, you go to meetings where you engage in respectful, supportive relationships. For many of us it is the first time we allow others to know us and the first time we actually care about getting to know others. – The engine of AA is this idea: no matter how far you have fallen, you have the power to help another, and doing so will keep you sober.

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