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Should Alcoholics Anonymous Be a First Choice for Treatment?

Alan Cleaver
Creative Commons

Pre-prohibition research into alcohol use and consumption was wiped out when the country dried out in the 1920s. In response, American "alcohol science" was created in the post-prohibition era to bring alcohol abuse into the medical realm, triggering a cultural explosion between advocates on each side of the wet/dry divide. It was in this arena that Alcoholics Anonymous was born. 

Alcoholics Anonymous has come under attack in recent years for its adherence to its 12-Step Program over new treatments that are backed by research. Many question why AA is sanctioned as the first choice of treatment, including by the courts, and whether it should retain its stature in this new century of research and treatment.

But AA retains a fiercely loyal following of those who credit the program with saving their lives. They say science can't replace the sense of community, spirituality, and engagement that helps, but is hard to measure. 


  • Gary Greenberg - Psychotherapist and the author of The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry 
  • Jessica Gregg - Medical Director for Substance Use Disorders, Oregon Health and Science University 
  • BritniDe LaCretaz  - Journalist, social worker, and recovering alcoholic 
  • MarkWillenbring - Addiction psychiatrist and Founder/CEO ofAlltyr Clinic. He's a former Director of Treatment and Recovery Research, National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism atNIH

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. 

Colin McEnroe, Betsy Kaplan, Chion Wolf, and Greg Hill contributed to this show. 

Copyright 2016 Connecticut Public

Betsy is a producer for WNPR. She has produced for the Colin McEnroe Show and the Colin McEnroe Show, currently producing full-time for the Colin McEnroe Show. She produced an award-winning show on the renaissance of Connecticut farms for Where We Live.

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