Self-help organizations for alcohol and drug problems: toward evidence-based practice and policy

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2004 Apr;26(3):151-8; discussion 159-65. doi: 10.1016/S0740-5472(03)00212-5.


This expert consensus statement reviews evidence on the effectiveness of drug and alcohol self-help groups and presents potential implications for clinicians, treatment program managers and policymakers. Because longitudinal studies associate self-help group involvement with reduced substance use, improved psychosocial functioning, and lessened health care costs, there are humane and practical reasons to develop self-help group supportive policies. Policies described here that could be implemented by clinicians and program managers include making greater use of empirically-validated self-help group referral methods in both specialty and non-specialty treatment settings and developing a menu of locally available self-help group options that are responsive to client's needs, preferences, and cultural background. The workgroup also offered possible self-help supportive policy options (e.g., supporting self-help clearinghouses) for state and federal decision makers. Implementing such policies could strengthen alcohol and drug self-help organizations, and thereby enhance the national response to the serious public health problem of substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Self-Help Groups* / economics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • United States