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AA Found to Help Female Inmates with Hazardous Drinking Problems

Posted in Women

The number of incarcerated females in the U.S. has risen dramatically in recent years, and more incarcerated women are also suffering from alcohol-related problems. Although little research has studied the efficacy of alcohol recovery programs, the most widely available alcohol recovery program—especially for alcoholic inmates—remains to be Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

According to researchers at Brown University’s Butler Hospital, Alcoholics Anonymous can significantly help recover currently incarcerated women and recently released female inmates who suffer from extreme alcohol problems, deemed ‘hazardous drinking.’ Lead researcher Yael Chatav Schonbrun, a Brown University psychiatry fellow, and colleagues assessed 224 women from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections Adult Correctional Institute who were considered to be hazardous drinkers (consuming 4 or more drinks at once at least 3 times in the last 3 months, or scoring 8 or higher on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). Initially, researchers evaluated the efficacy of brief intervention to reduce hazardous drinking; then researchers further studied the characteristics of the AA attendants both during their incarceration and throughout the six months following their release. The researchers assessed such variables as attendants’ demographics, clinical conditions, previous AA attendance, frequency of AA attendance, and post-incarceration drinking episodes.

During the follow-up period, 54% of the study’s participants reported that they were still attending AA. Participants were more likely to maintain frequent AA attendance post-incarceration if they had prior AA involvement or had experienced more significant alcohol-related consequences. The more often the participants attended AA meetings, the lower their risk of negative drinking consequences and frequency of drinking became. Overall, the study’s participants significantly lowered the number of days they spent drinking.

Incarcerated women are considered to be an underserved population when it comes to mental health outreach services. AA, which is the most well-known alcohol-related recovery program, was shown to considerably help hazardous-drinking women upon their release from incarceration. The researchers hope that their findings will help encourage further consideration of intervention and recovery outreach for this targeted group of at-risk women. Their study is to be published in the March 2011 issue Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, and is now available online.

Source: Health Day, Robert Preidt, AA May Help Stem Alcohol Abuse in Female Convicts, December 15