What is the Success Rate of Alcoholics Anonymous?

What is the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous? Well, that depends on who you ask. AA themselves have reported an astonishing 75 percent success rate. According to them, this figure breaks down into 50 percent stable sobriety and 25 percent sobriety with some relapse. That last figure is confusing. If someone is relapsing, then they’re not sober. Relapse is understandable and a normal part of recovery, but you can’t call it sobriety. Another problem with any kind of AA statistics is the fact that AA is anonymous by nature. That’s why it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous to begin with. How accurate can statistics from an anonymous group be? It’s not like a clinical trial where someone always knows exactly who each participant is. Anonymous participants may not report at all. Maybe they don’t want to complete the survey. Maybe they feel it goes against the whole principle of AA to ask any kind of statistic. Besides that, some participants may not be honest. They may report total sobriety when it’s really not true. Who can say? Even AA themselves have reported conflicting statistics.

Does AA Work?

A 2014 study conducted by AA showed that of the 6000 respondents, about 27 percent maintained sobriety for a year or less. A few less, 24 percent, were sober for one to five years. According to these statistics, AA failed about three-quarters of the time for both groups. In the 5 to 10 year group, statistics dimmed considerably to 13 percent sobriety. It remained about the same, 14 percent, for the 10 to 20 year sobriety group. For those who stuck with AA for 20 or more years, the final long-term success rate was 24 percent. Of course, these are self-reported statistics. They could be skewed or inaccurate and no one would know. As a general figure, however, most drug treatment professionals peg AA’s actual average overall success rate at somewhere between 8 and 12 percent. However, some people say it’s as low as 5 percent. Again, there is no real way to be sure. Even a drug treatment professional is still only making an educated guess based on anecdotal patient information.

Other Drug Treatment Statistics

Hazelden Betty Ford claims that 89 percent of its graduates are still sober one month after discharge, but this doesn’t mean much. Just about anyone can stay sober for short periods of time measured in days, weeks or months. It’s the long-term sobriety that counts. Other statistics say that about 70 percent of alcohol rehab patients are still sober after nine months. Similar statistics apply to other drugs, too, although these are a little higher: 89 to 95 percent. However, these figures apply only to the first nine months and don’t reflect sobriety rates in the long term. About 41 percent of those addicted to opioids stayed clean after treatment when it included MAT or medication-assisted treatment. This is not surprising because MAT does a tremendous amount to suppress drug cravings. Florida wins the prize for the greatest number of drug rehab residents who stay in treatment and complete it, which is about 70 percent.

AA and MAT

AA disapproves of any kind of medication to treat addiction. This includes the MAT that has helped so many opioid addicts remain clean of their drug of choice and function in society again. In fact, AA not only disapproves of such medications, they outright forbid them. If you admitted to an AA group that you were taking any kind of medication designed to help you abstain from drugs or alcohol, you would be met with stares of disapproval. Someone would probably try to talk you out of it. If you’re ever in an AA group, listen and get what you can out of it. You’re there, so you might as well. However, keep any kind of MAT information to yourself should you decide to get up and speak. It’s not likely that they will be receptive.

This attitude has a lot to do with the basic premise of AA that’s reflected in its Steps One and Two, which require you to give control over your life to a higher power because you have lost it. AA believes that your higher power, and not a medication, should be enough to keep you sober. However, AA sees nothing wrong with nicotine addiction. You can smoke cigarettes all you want, and many members do.

If you’re Confused

Choosing the right alcohol or drug rehab is difficult. You can call us anytime at 833-364-0736, and a trained counselor will speak with you, determine your needs and guide you to the best facility for you.