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Intensive referral to 12-Step self-help groups and 6-month substance use disorder outcomes.

Timko C, Debenedetti A, Billow R. Intensive referral to 12-Step self-help groups and 6-month substance use disorder outcomes. Addiction. 2006 May 1; 101(5):678-88.

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AIMS: This study implemented and evaluated procedures to help clinicians make effective referrals to 12-Step self-help groups. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. Setting Out-patient substance use disorder treatment. Participants Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) entering a new treatment episode (n = 345) who were assigned randomly to a standard referral- or an intensive referral-to-self-help condition. MEASUREMENTS: Self-reports of 12-Step group attendance and involvement and substance use at baseline and a 6-month follow-up. INTERVENTION: The intensive referral intervention focused on encouraging patients to attend 12-Step meetings by connecting them to 12-Step volunteers. FINDINGS: Among patients with relatively less previous 12-Step meeting attendance, intensive referral was associated with more meeting attendance during follow-up than was standard referral. Among all patients, compared with those who received standard referral, those who received intensive referral were more likely to be involved with 12-Step groups during the 6-month follow-up (i.e. had provided service, had a spiritual awakening and currently had a sponsor). Intensive referral patients also had better alcohol and drug use outcomes at 6 months. Twelve-Step involvement mediated part of the association between referral condition and alcohol outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: The brief intensive referral intervention was associated with improved 12-Step group involvement and substance use outcomes even among patients with considerable previous 12-Step group exposure and formal treatment. Future 12-Step intensive referral procedures should focus on encouraging 12-Step group involvement in addition to attendance to benefit patients most effectively.

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