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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2007 Oct;33(3):265-72.

Spirituality and recovery in 12-step programs: an empirical model.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs are widely employed in the addiction rehabilitation community. It is therefore important for researchers and clinicians to have a better understanding of how recovery from addiction takes place, in terms of psychological mechanisms associated with spiritual renewal. A program like AA is described here as a spiritual recovery movement, that is, one that effects compliance with its behavioral norms by engaging recruits in a social system that promotes new and transcendent meaning in their lives. The mechanisms underlying the attribution of new meaning in AA are considered by recourse to the models of positive psychology and social network support; both models have been found to be associated with constructive health outcomes in a variety of contexts. By drawing on available empirical research, it is possible to define the diagnosis of addiction and the criteria for recovery in spiritually oriented terms.

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