Alcoholics anonymous, other 12-step movements and psychotherapy in the US population, 1990 Academic Article uri icon


  • Based on the 1990 US National Alcohol Survey, this note provides the first available comprehensive findings on self-reported utilization of a variety of sources of personal support and counselling for alcohol and other problems. Respondents were queried about lifetime attendance and number of times they went to identified sources of help in the prior year. Twelve-step groups included Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, and other non-alcohol-oriented groups like Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous; additional questions inquired about support or therapy groups and individual counselling for non-alcohol problems. Of the US adult population, 9% have been to an AA meeting at some time, 3.6% in the prior year, only about one-third of these for problems of their own. About half these percentages, mostly women, have attended Al-Anon. Of the same population, 13.3% indicate ever attending a 12-step meeting (including non-alcohol-oriented groups), 5.3% in the last year. During the prior year a further 2.1% used other support/therapy groups and 5.5% sought individual counselling/therapy for personal problems other than alcohol. In contrast to this high reported utilization, only 4.9% (ever) and 2.3% (12-months) reported going to anyone including AA for a problem (of their own) related to drinking.

publication date

  • April 1993