Background: Given the widespread use of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other similar groups in the United States and the increasing membership of women, this study compares women with men on their meeting attendance and AA-prescribed behaviors, factors associated with that AA participation, and tests how these relate to women’s and men’s abstinence across time.
Methods: All consecutive new admissions (age ≥ 18) from county-wide public and private treatment programs representing the larger population of treatment seekers were approached to be in the study at treatment entry. Those consenting at baseline (n = 926) were sought for follow-up interviews 1, 3, 5, and 7 years later. Generalized linear models were used to test whether various help-seeking factors were associated with AA participation differentially by gender and, controlling for AA and other confounders, whether women differ from men on abstinence.
Results: At each follow-up interview, women and men attended AA at similar rates and similarly practiced specific AA behaviors, and they were alike on most factors associated with AA participation and abstention across time including abstinence goal, drink volume, negative consequences, prior treatment, and encouragement to reduce drinking. Relative to men, women with higher drug severity were less likely to participate in AA. Although higher AA participation was a predictor of abstinence for both genders, men were less likely to be abstinent across time. Men were also more likely to reduce their AA participation across time.
Conclusions: These findings add to an emerging literature on how women compare with men on factors related to AA participation and subsequent drinking outcomes across time. Findings have clinical implications for service providers referring clients to such groups.