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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2003 May;29(2):301-22.

Mediators of effectiveness in dual-focus self-help groups.

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National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., New York, New York, USA.


Although research on the effectiveness of 12-step group participation has been increasing, there has been little examination of the processes by which such participation leads to positive outcomes. Two kinds of factors have been proposed as mediating between 12-step group affiliation and outcomes for members, common process factors that have been identified in a range of behavioral treatments and factors that are relatively unique to the 12-step model. The study tested the hypotheses that two common process factors (internal locus of control and sociability) and two unique factors (spirituality and installation of hope) mediate the effects of 12-step group affiliation on drug/alcohol abstinence and health promoting behavior. The study respondents were members of a dual focus 12-step-based fellowship, Double Trouble in Recovery (DTR), designed to address issues of both substance use and mental health. Members of 24 DTR groups in New York City were recruited and followed-up for 1 year. The degree of 12-step group affiliation during the study period was associated with more positive outcomes at follow-up. Internal locus of control and sociability mediated the effects of 12-step group affiliation on both outcomes, whereas spirituality and hope acted as mediators only for health promoting behavior. Understanding that the therapeutic factors inherent in 12-step are not mysterious, but appear to capitalize on well-documented social learning principles, may increase the acceptance of 12-step programs among addiction and mental health professionals.

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