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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1978 July; 28(192): 414–419.
PMCID: PMC2158778

Talking out of alcoholism: results from a survey of Alcoholics Anonymous in England and Wales


A national survey of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced data on the way AA members talk about their experiences and the role this plays in achieving and maintaining sobriety. The survey was based on self-completion questionnaires given to one in four members attending meetings of a one in ten random sample of AA groups operating in England and Wales. Only 1·8 per cent of current members had never spoken at a meeting, while 62·5 per cent spoke regularly. Hearing other people's personal stories was felt by members to be the most useful part of AA meetings. At some time 81·9 per cent of members had told their own story and there was some relationship between dropping out and not telling personal stories. The great majority of those who had told stories reported changes in their content over time; 58·0 per cent of these changes involved a shift of emphasis from drinking to recovery. The results suggest that AA enables people to change the way they perceive and evaluate themselves. It enables them to talk themselves out of alcoholism.

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