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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous: The Role of Spiritual Orientation and AA Member Affiliation

Empirical findings characterizing long-term, committed Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members are limited, particularly among younger members.

The authors studied a sample of 266 highly committed attendees (mean age, 27 years) at an annual conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (YPAA), whose first encounter with AA was 6 years previously. Most (72%) had abused drugs and alcohol, and 36% had never received substance abuse treatment.

They now reported a mean duration of abstinence of 44 months and had attended an average of 233 AA meetings in the previous year; 66% had served as AA sponsors, and 92% reported experiencing an AA “spiritual awakening,” itself associated with a decreased likelihood of alcohol craving. Scores on AA beliefs, affiliation to other members, and the experience of spiritual awakening were associated with lower depression scores.

These findings are discussed to clarify the nature of long-term AA membership.

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