Without Obligation.
Discreet & Confidential.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous Most Effective Path To Alcohol Abstinence?

Alcoholics anonymous is a commonly used program for alcohol abstinence. Learn about if AA is the most effective route to abstinence from alcohol.

What is Alcohol Abstinence?

When someone struggles with an alcohol use disorder and wants to stop drinking alcohol, alcohol abstinence will likely be recommended. Many different treatment programs encourage abstinence from alcohol when someone struggles with a drinking problem, including alcoholics anonymous. This article will discuss alcohol abstinence and whether alcoholics anonymous is the best treatment option to achieve abstinence when trying to quit drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Abstinence Meaning

Alcohol abstinence means abstaining, or avoiding, drinking alcohol. Alcohol use disorder abstinence is common during addiction treatment when someone struggles with a drinking problem.1 Achieving long-term abstinence from alcohol can be a difficult task, but there are many resources available that can help when trying to stop drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Abstinence Self-Efficacy Scale

The alcohol abstinence self-efficacy (AASE) scale is a 20-item self-report that can be used to determine a person’s likelihood of successfully abstaining from alcohol use. The AASE scale has shown to be effective for determining the proper route of treatment for an individual struggling with alcohol abuse and helping people understand what triggers might cause trouble during abstinence from alcohol.2

Benefits of Alcohol Abstinence

There are many positive effects of alcohol abstinence, especially those who struggle with addiction. Alcohol abstinence benefits include:3
  • Avoiding accidents or other adverse outcomes of heavy drinking
  • Heart health may improve
  • Liver health may improve
  • Weight loss
  • Improved relationships
  • Better sleep
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cognitive functioning

Alcoholics Anonymous for Alcohol Abstinence

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an alcohol use disorder abstinence program. When trying to stop drinking alcohol, AA may be an excellent option to turn to. AA is a 12-step program that involves regular support group meetings while following 12 steps toward recovery and continued abstinence from alcohol. Many alcohol abuse abstinence programs will use AA or may recommend AA meetings as a form of aftercare after completing an entire addiction rehab program at a treatment center.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous the Most Effective Path to Alcohol Abstinence?

While AA can be an effective program for alcohol abstinence, it isn’t suitable for everyone. Those who struggle with severe alcohol use disorders may require more comprehensive treatment options provided at an addiction treatment center. Some people also don’t find AA suitable for them since it is based on religious concepts, and some of the wordings of the 12 steps can be off-putting to some people. So, while AA is effective, it is not the proper treatment method for everyone. If you are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, talking to your doctor or an addiction treatment professional is a good idea to understand the best options for your needs.

How Effective is Alcoholics Anonymous for Abstinence?

AA can be an effective alcohol abstinence program, and there are many success stories of people who used AA meetings to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety. The effectiveness of AA will often depend on the individual, their needs, and their commitment to following the program.

Alcohol Abstinence vs. Moderation

While alcohol abstinence and alcohol moderation may sound like similar terms, there is a difference between the two. There are many different reasons why someone may choose either abstinence or moderation of alcohol use. It’s important to consider your individual circumstances and needs when choosing between the two.

What is Alcohol Moderation?

Alcohol moderation is when someone cuts back on drinking alcohol but does not completely stop drinking. There are many reasons why someone may choose to moderate alcohol use, including saving money, weight loss, or trying to avoid negative consequences that come with frequent alcohol use.

Moderation of Abstinence in Drinking Alcohol

There are many different reasons why someone may choose either moderation or abstinence from alcohol. To choose the one that is the best fit for you, it is important to determine your specific circumstances and the results you would like to achieve.

When is it Better to Focus on Alcohol Abstinence?

For those who struggle with alcohol addiction, total abstinence from alcohol is usually recommended. Alcohol use disorder abstinence is common in most addiction treatment programs, as those who struggle with a severe drinking problem will need to avoid drinking to recover appropriately. Other people who struggle with health issues or want to avoid the adverse effects of drinking alcohol may also choose to abstain from drinking, even if they don’t struggle with an alcohol use problem.

When is Moderation a Better Strategy for Alcohol Use?

If you don’t struggle with an alcohol use disorder but would like to cut back on drinking for many reasons, alcohol moderation may be a good option. Moderation of alcohol may involve cutting back the amount or frequency that someone drinks and can benefit someone’s life and well-being.

Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous for Alcohol Abstinence

AA isn’t for everyone, and alternative treatment options are available that can help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used during addiction treatment and has shown to be an effective treatment option that could be an alternative to AA. CBT treatment can help those struggling with an alcohol use disorder learn how their thoughts affect their behavior. Over time, CBT treatment can help patients create more positive thinking patterns that help achieve long-term abstinence from alcohol.


Alcohol abstinence medication may also be available when you receive treatment from an addiction treatment center. Currently, there are four medications that are recommended for the treatment of alcohol use disorder:
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Topiramate
Each of these medications has been scientifically studied and proven to be effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms or preventing relapse in alcohol addiction treatment.4

Support Groups

There are also alternative support groups available other than AA. Joining a support group can help provide a sense of community during addiction treatment. Having a supportive community around you can help with achieving long-term alcohol abstinence.

Alcohol Abstinence at San Diego Detox

If you are looking for an alcohol addiction treatment program that can achieve alcohol abstinence, San Diego Detox can help.

Our Alcohol Abstinence Programs

San Diego Detox has many evidence-based treatment programs that have shown to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder. During alcohol abstinence treatment at San Diego Detox, you will be provided with a personalized treatment program and guided through the treatment process by our friendly and knowledgeable staff. We aim to make the treatment as comfortable and safe as possible every step of the way.

Alcohol Abstinence Timeline

During alcohol addiction treatment, there is a common timeline of alcohol abstinence. Knowing the timeline for alcohol abstinence will help you get a good idea of what to expect from the treatment process.

2 to 12 Hours

Within 2 to 12 hours of stopping drinking and beginning an alcohol detox, you will experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Many of the early withdrawal symptoms will be mild during this time.

12 to 24 Hours

Withdrawal symptoms will continue and may worsen during this time. Many people will begin to experience alcohol cravings at this point.

24 to 48 Hours

This is the period where the most severe withdrawal symptoms will occur. Medical attention is recommended during this time to ensure safety.

48 to 72 Hours

During this period, withdrawal symptoms will begin to recede or become more manageable.

3 to 7 Days

At this point, most withdrawal symptoms will have stopped. After this point, many people will still experience alcohol cravings, which makes it important for continued support and treatment to ensure success and maintain sobriety. If you choose treatment with San Diego Detox, we will be there with you throughout the alcohol abstinence timeline as you work through a detox and recovery program. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you achieve alcohol abstinence and get on the road to recovery.