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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2004 Aug;30(3):577-92.

Psychiatric severity and spirituality, helping, and participation in alcoholics anonymous during recovery.

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  • 1Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, San Francisco, California 94117, USA.


Although helping others is a critical part of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and many treatment programs, measures for assessing helping and describing its relationship with sobriety are lacking. A sample of 200 subjects completed a Helper Therapy Scale including three subscales: Recovery Helping (alpha = 0.78), Life Helping (alpha = 0.62), and Community Helping (alpha = 0.60). A previous analysis using structural equation modeling found that length of sobriety predicted measures of spirituality, helping, and AA participation. The analysis reported here examined whether psychiatric severity was associated with these variables. Results indicated significant relationships between psychiatric severity and measures of spirituality (Self Transcendence, Forgiveness, Positive Coping, and Negative Coping) and AA Achievement (defined as completing the 12 steps and serving as a sponsor). However, no relationships were found between psychiatric severity and length of sobriety, the three Helper Therapy subscales, or AA involvement. The findings suggest that individuals with higher psychiatric severity may need assistance from their peers or professional service providers to develop a spiritual life, serve as a sponsor for others, or complete the steps of AA.

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