Social and community resources and long-term recovery from treated and untreated alcoholism

J Stud Alcohol. 1997 May;58(3):231-8. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1997.58.231.


Objective: Long-term studies of the course of alcoholism suggest that a variety of factors other than professional treatment influence the process of recovery. This study evaluated the role of demographic factors, baseline alcohol-related problems and depression, professional treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other social and community resources in predicting remission and psychosocial outcome over 8 years.

Method: A sample of 628 previously untreated alcoholic individuals was recruited at detoxification units and alcoholism information and referral services. Of these participants, 395 (68.2%) were followed 3 and 8 years later. Most (83.3%) were white (n = 329) and 50.1% (n = 198) were men. At each contact point, participants completed a self-administered inventory that assessed their current problems, treatment utilization, AA participation and quality of relationships.

Results: Number of inpatient treatment days received in the 3 years after baseline were not independently related to 8-year remission or psychosocial outcomes. More outpatient treatment in the first 3 years increased the likelihood of 8-year remission, but was not related to psychosocial outcomes. The number of AA meetings attended in the first 3 years predicted remission, lower depression, and higher quality relationships with friends and spouse/partner at 8 years. Extended family quality at baseline also predicted remission and higher quality friendships and family relationships at 8 years.

Conclusions: Given that alcoholism is a chronic, context-dependent disorder, it is not surprising that short-term interventions have little long-term impact. Social and community resources that are readily available for long periods are more likely to have a lasting influence on the course of alcoholism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Community Mental Health Services*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Resources*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Social Support*