Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Stud Alcohol. 2000 Jul;61(4):529-40.

Long-term outcomes of alcohol use disorders: comparing untreated individuals with those in alcoholics anonymous and formal treatment.

Author information

  • 1Center of Health Care Evaluation, Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System and Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA.



The aim of this study was to examine how the type and timing of help received over 8 years by previously untreated problem drinking individuals were linked to drinking and functioning outcomes.


At the time of the 8-year follow-up, individuals (N= 466, 51% male) had self-selected into four groups: no treatment (n = 78), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) only (n = 66), formal treatment only (n = 74), or formal treatment plus AA (n = 248).


Individuals who received some type of help--AA, formal treatment or both--were more likely to be abstinent at 8 years than were untreated individuals. Although the AA only group was better off than the formal treatment only group at 1 and 3 years, the informally and formally treated groups were equivalent on drinking outcomes at 8 years. Similarly, despite the formal treatment plus AA group having been better off at 1 and 3 years than the formal treatment only group, the two formal treatment groups were comparable on drinking at 8 years. Both helped and untreated individuals improved between baseline and 1 year on drinking outcomes, but only formally treated individuals showed continued improvement over 8 years on drinking indices. Participation in AA or formal treatment during Year 1 of follow-up was associated with better drinking outcomes at 8 years.


Individuals who obtain help for a drinking problem, especially relatively quickly, do somewhat better on drinking outcomes over 8 years than those who do not receive help, but there is little difference between types of help on long-term drinking outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Dartmouth Journal Services
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk