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Al-Anon newcomers: benefits of continuing attendance for six months.

Timko C, Laudet A, Moos RH. Al-Anon newcomers: benefits of continuing attendance for six months. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse. 2016 Jul 1; 42(4):441-9.

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BACKGROUND: Al-Anon Family Groups, a 12-step mutual-help program for people concerned about another person's drinking, is the most widely used form of help by Concerned Others. OBJECTIVES: This longitudinal study examined newcomers' outcomes of attending Al-Anon. Aims were to better understand early gains from Al-Anon to inform efforts in the professional community to facilitate concerned others' attendance of and engagement in Al-Anon. METHODS: We compared two groups of Al-Anon newcomers who completed surveys at baseline and 6 months later: those who discontinued attendance by the 6-month follow-up (N = 133), and those who were still attending Al-Anon meetings (N = 97); baseline characteristics were controlled in these comparisons. RESULTS: Newcomers who sustained participation in Al-Anon over the first 6 months of attendance were more likely than those who discontinued participation during the same period to report gains in a variety of domains, such as learning how to handle problems due to the drinker, and increased well-being and functioning, including reduced verbal or physical abuse victimization. Newcomers to Al-Anon reported more personal gains than drinker-related gains. The most frequent drinker gain was a better relationship with the Concerned Other; attendees were more likely to report this, as well as daily, in-person contact with the drinker. CONCLUSION: Al-Anon participation may facilitate ongoing interaction between Concerned Others and drinkers, and help Concerned Others function and feel better. Thus, short-term participation may be beneficial. Health-care professionals should consider providing referrals to Al-Anon and monitoring early attendance.

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