Motivational intervention to enhance post-detoxification 12-Step group affiliation: a randomized controlled trial




To compare a motivational intervention (MI) focused on increasing involvement in 12-Step groups (TSGs; e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) versus brief advice (BA) to attend TSGs.


Patients were assigned randomly to either the MI or BA condition, and followed-up at 6 months after discharge.

Setting and participants

 One hundred and forty substance use disorder (SUD) patients undergoing in-patient detoxification (detox) in Norway.


The primary outcome was TSG affiliation measured with the Alcoholics Anonymous Affiliation Scale (AAAS), which combines meeting attendance and TSG involvement. Substance use and problem severity were also measured.


At 6 months after treatment, compared with the BA group, the MI group had higher TSG affiliation [0.91 point higher AAAS score; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.04 to 1.78; P = 0.041]. The MI group reported 3.5 fewer days of alcohol use (2.1 versus 5.6 days; 95% CI = −6.5 to −0.6; P = 0.020) and 4.0 fewer days of drug use (3.8 versus 7.8 days; 95% CI = −7.5 to −0.4; P = 0.028); however, abstinence rates and severity scores did not differ between conditions. Analyses controlling for duration of in-patient treatment did not alter the results.


A motivational intervention in an in-patient detox ward was more successful than brief advice in terms of patient engagement in 12-Step groups and reduced substance use at 6 months after discharge. There is a potential benefit of adding a maintenance-focused element to standard detox.