United Kingdom substance misuse treatment workers' attitudes toward 12-step self-help groups

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2005 Dec;29(4):321-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2005.08.009.


Research has highlighted the benefits of professional substance misuse treatment workers facilitating their clients' involvement in 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). This study used a cross-sectional survey design to explore the attitudes of substance misuse treatment staff working in the English West Midlands region toward AA and NA and the 12-step philosophy. A total of 346 treatment workers responded (71%). Fewer than 10% used the 12-step model in their treatment work, and only a third felt that their clients were generally suited to AA or NA. Fewer than half (46%) said that they were likely to recommend that their clients attend a self-help group meeting. Staff with nursing qualifications were more likely to have a positive attitude toward AA/NA than their non-nursing colleagues, and there was a statistically significant association between the level of reported spirituality of the workers and the likelihood of them recommending to clients that they attend AA or NA meetings. These results highlight differences in the role of AA/NA within the substance misuse treatment system in the United Kingdom and that in the United States; possible explanations are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholics Anonymous*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Spirituality
  • Surveys and Questionnaires