Network support for drinking, Alcoholics Anonymous and long-term matching effects

Addiction. 1998 Sep;93(9):1313-33. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.1998.93913133.x.


Aims: (1) To examine the matching hypothesis that Twelve Step Facilitation Therapy (TSF) is more effective than Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) for alcohol-dependent clients with networks highly supportive of drinking 3 years following treatment; (2) to test a causal chain providing the rationale for this effect.

Design: Outpatients were re-interviewed 3 years following treatment. ANCOVAs tested the matching hypothesis.

Setting: Outpatients from five clinical research units distributed across the United States.

Participants: Eight hundred and six alcohol-dependent clients.

Intervention: Clients were randomly assigned to one of three 12-week, manually-guided, individual treatments: TSF, MET or Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy (CBT).

Measurements: Network support for drinking prior to treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) involvement during and following treatment, percentage of days abstinent and drinks per drinking day during months 37-39.

Findings: (1) The a priori matching hypothesis that TSF is more effective than MET for clients with networks supportive of drinking was supported at the 3 year follow-up; (2) AA involvement was a partial mediator of this effect; clients with networks supportive of drinking assigned to TSF were more likely to be involved in AA; AA involvement was associated with better 3-year drinking outcomes for such clients.

Conclusions: (1) In the long-term TSF may be the treatment of choice for alcohol-dependent clients with networks supportive of drinking; (2) involvement in AA should be given special consideration for clients with networks supportive of drinking, irrespective of the therapy they will receive.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Ambulatory Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Recurrence
  • Social Support
  • Treatment Outcome