Needs to seek hel[p Seeking Help Could Quadruple the Likelihood of Abstinence

To quantify the effect of help seeking on recovery from alcoholism, researchers in the United States analyzed data from 4,422 adults who had participated in a nationally representative survey and developed alcohol dependence at least 1 year before their participation.

  • Only 26 percent of subjects had ever sought help for their alcohol problems;
  • 3 percent participated in a 12-step program only,
  • 6 percent in formal treatment only, and
  • 17 percent in both. 

Help seekers drank more and had higher lifetime prevalence’s of other drug use, mood disorders, and personality disorders than did subjects who had not sought help.

In analyses adjusted for potential confounders, help seeking significantly increased the likelihood of any recovery and of abstinence. Any recovery was defined as, in the past year, having no symptoms of alcohol abuse or dependence and either drinking low-risk amounts* or abstaining.

The odds of recovery were greater for those who had participated in 12-step programs with or without formal treatment than for those who had participated in formal treatment only.

Comments by Peter Friedmann, MD, MPH:

Even though they had more comorbidity and therefore were at risk for worse outcomes, seekers of formal and informal treatment had better odds of recovery from alcohol dependence. However, help seeking ”regardless of the patient’s level of readiness”should be encouraged.

Research Reference: Dawson DA, Grant BF, Stinson FS, et al. Estimating the effect of help-seeking on achieving recovery from alcohol dependence. Addiction. 2006;101(6):824–834. From; Join Together Online.

Related Reading:

Alcoholics Anonymous
Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, 2e (Treatment Plans and Interventions for Evidence-Based Psychot)
First Year Sobriety: When All That Changes Is Everything
The Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment Planner: Includes DSM-5 Updates