Harvard, Hazelden and the Center for Addiction Medicine conducted a study which shows a couple of things: 1. When young people enter treatment, their motivation is high, but their coping and self-efficacy skills are low; 2. Those who have the highest success rates, 3 months post-treatment, have the highest levels of self-efficacy and coping skills.
So, they spent money to figure that out.
When entering treatment, study participants reported high levels of motivation to remain abstinent but lower levels of coping skills, self-efficacy and commitment to mutual support groups. During-treatment increases in these measures predicted abstinence from alcohol or other drug use at three months post-treatment. Self-efficacy or increased confidence in ability to sustain recovery was the strongest predictor of abstinence.
When they say “support group,” what they mean is AA or NA. Twelve Step is the only treatment option these kids received. Therefore, what this study cannot demonstrate is any evidence of the efficacy of 12 Step treatment. It would be irresponsible to even make that suggestion.
Slaymaker of Hazelden adds, “The young people in our study were quite motivated to do well in treatment but lacked the confidence, coping skills, and commitment to AA that are critical to longer-term success. Treatment appears to work by increasing their confidence and ability to make and sustain healthy, recovery-related efforts.”
The findings suggest residential treatment provides the boost that the young people need. By reducing their psychological distress, developing their recovery-focused coping skills, increasing their commitment to AA and other groups [they mean NA, not SMART], and by enhancing their overall confidence to stay clean and sober, young people make meaningful changes in treatment that position them for improved outcomes. Because self-efficacy was a strong predictor of abstinence, it may serve as a useful clinical summary indicator to monitor change and relapse potential among young adults in treatment.
They’re not saying AA is important; they’re saying commitment to AA is. Still, the study doesn’t demonstrate this at all, except by default. Since AA is the only treatment option provided, the honest conclusion would have to be that commitment is important. Throwing AA in as a factor is disingenuous, akin to claiming that Pop Rocks are part of a balanced breakfast if you sprinkle them on your oatmeal and fruit.
Does it seem to anyone else that the conclusions they draw are inconsistent with the information they gathered in this study?
Young adults undergoing addiction treatment arrive ready and willing to make the personal changes that bring about recovery, but it’s the help and guidance received during treatment that build and sustain those changes, according to a longitudinal study published electronically and in press within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study was conducted collaboratively by the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden.