Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) states that recovery is possible through spiritual experiences and spiritual awakenings. Research examining spirituality as a mediator of AA's effect on drinking has been mixed. It is unknown whether such findings are due to variations in the operationalization of key constructs, such as AA and spirituality. To answer these questions, the authors used a longitudinal model to test 2 dimensions of AA as focal predictors and 6 dimensions of spirituality as possible mediators of AA's association with drinking. Data from the first 18 months of a 3-year longitudinal study of 364 alcohol-dependent individuals were analyzed. Structural equation modeling was used to replicate the analyses of Kelly et al. (Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011;35:454-463) and to compare AA attendance and AA involvement as focal predictors. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine which spirituality dimensions changed as the result of AA participation. A trimmed, data-driven model was employed to test multiple mediation paths simultaneously. The findings of the Kelly et al. study were replicated. AA involvement was a stronger predictor of drinking outcomes than AA attendance. AA involvement predicted increases in private religious practices, daily spiritual experiences, and forgiveness of others. However, only private religious practices mediated the relationship between AA and drinking.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grants R01AA014442–05 and R21-AA019723 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and grant UL1RR024986 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank especially Jaclyn C. Bradley, Laura Klem, and Yoav Ben Yosef.
- Alcohol use disorders
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- mechanisms of change