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J Subst Abuse Treat. 1994 May-Jun;11(3):185-95.

What do women get out of self-help? Their reasons for attending Women for Sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, California 94709.


It has been variously argued in the literature on women and alcohol that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether there is a need for women to be treated separately and differently from alcoholic men; that the findings are mixed; that the treatment characteristics that are more or less effective with women still are not known; and that some types of treatment are indeed best for women. This paper considers reasons for distinct treatment approaches for alcoholic women and considers in depth one such solution: Women For Sobriety (WFS). Using data from the first comprehensive survey of the WFS membership (response rate = 73%, n = 600), the reasons given by respondents for attending WFS and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and for not attending AA, are presented. Respondents said they attend WFS for support and nurturance (54%), for a safe environment (26%), for sharing about women's issues (42%), and because of its positive emphasis (38%) and focus on self esteem (39%). They attend AA primarily as insurance against relapse (28%), for its wide availability (25%), and for sharing (31%) and support (27%). Women who do not attend AA mentioned feeling as though they never fit in at AA (20%), finding AA too negative (18%), disliking the drunkalogs (14%) and their focus on the past (14%), and feeling that AA is geared to men's needs (15%). To provide a context for understanding what WFS members get out of attending WFS that they do not get out of AA, a brief description of WFS and a comparison between WFS and AA are provided. Implications for treatment referral are also discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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