Yet AA and similar groups are not treatment – rather, they’re support groups or what professionals call mutual help groups because participants (usually peers) support and help each other without professional therapy or guidance.
However, such groups existed long before AA was established in 1935, as noted by William White, author of , who documented the existence of native American recovery “circles” a century earlier.
Kirkpatrick felt that women with drinking problems require different approaches than men and began this abstinence-based program for women, taking the position that drinking begins as a way of dealing with emotional issues and then evolves into addiction.
Note, too, that a mutual-help group called Moderation Management, which has 30 face-to-face groups, is available for people with drinking problems but who are not addicted to alcohol and want to reduce or stop their drinking and make other positive lifestyle changes.
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Designed to bolster women’s sense of self-value, the WFS philosophy stands in contrast with AA’s focus on humility and limiting self-centeredness, working from a position of empowerment.
Members are encouraged to learn how to better manage their issues by sharing with and encouraging one another. SMART Recovery’s cornerstone is cognitive-behavioral approaches that help members recognize environmental and emotional factors for alcohol and other drug use (as well as other “addictive” behaviors) and then to respond to them in new, more productive ways.
Today, although most people have heard only of AA and similar 12-step mutual help groups – and this approach is included in some fashion in programming of the majority of U. treatment facilities – it’s well-documented in the scientific literature that most people who go to AA don’t stick with it.