Professional continuing care services enhance recovery rates among adults and adolescents, though less is known about emerging adults (18-25 years old). Despite benefit shown from emerging adults’ participation in 12-step mutual-help organizations (MHOs), it is unclear whether participation offers benefit independent of professional continuing care services. Greater knowledge in this area would inform clinical referral and linkage efforts.
Emerging adults (N = 284; 74% male; 95% Caucasian) were assessed during the year after residential treatment on outpatient sessions per week, percent days in residential treatment and residing in a sober living environment, SUD medication use, active 12-step MHO involvement (e.g., having a sponsor, completing step work, contact with members outside meetings), and continuous abstinence (dichotomized yes/no). One generalized estimating equation (GEE) model tested the unique effect of each professional service on abstinence, and, in a separate GEE model, the unique effect of 12-step MHO involvement on abstinence over and above professional services, independent of individual covariates.
Apart from SUD medication, all professional continuing care services were significantly associated with abstinence over and above individual factors. In the more comprehensive model, relative to zero 12-step MHO activities, odds of abstinence were 1.3 times greater if patients were involved in one activity, and 3.2 times greater if involved in five activities (lowest mean number of activities in the sample across all follow-ups).
Both active involvement in 12-step MHOs and recovery-supportive, professional services that link patients with these community-based resources may enhance outcomes for emerging adults after residential treatment.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a community-based, 12-step organization that holds nearly 62,000 meetings weekly in 129 countries. Relatively little is known about NA members’ recovery experiences. This study presents results of focus groups conducted with long-term NA members to identify key ingredients of recovery, recovery-related processes, and quality-of-life outcomes beyond abstinence. Participants identified personal and program characteristics that were critical to recovery (e.g., responsibility), illuminated several recovery-related processes (e.g., using the 12 steps to obtain a deeper self-understanding), and described personal and interpersonal quality-of-life enhancements (e.g., improved relationships). In addition, fellowship was described as a pervasive and essential element of recovery.