Spirituality and Alcoholism

Research – Spirituality and


This is a piece of research by Stephanie Carroll into the relationship between spirituality and a sense of life purpose as realised through recovery from alcoholism and by practising the 12 steps as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.T

he research focused on spirituality as realised through step 11 and 12 of the AA program, and drew its conclusions at such. The drawback with this approach, is that it ignores the remaining 10 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The wording of step 12 indicates clearly that the person practising the 12 steps undergoes a spiritual awakening or spiritual experience as the result of practising the 12 steps. Focusing on only two of the steps gives a distorted impression of the recovery process.

The added sense of a life purpose expressing itself through working with other alcoholics could be seen as either a healthy process, in some ways a continuation of a coping mechanism that is inherent in the nature of alcoholism.

Below is a quote summarising the research piece followed by a full reference and link. The research was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“This study examines the relationship between spirituality and recovery from alcoholism. Spirituality was defined as the extent of practice of Alcoholics Anonymous Steps 11 and 12 and was measured by a Step Questionnaire developed by the researcher. Step 11 suggests prayer and meditation and Step 12 suggests assistance of other alcoholics. Expressed degree of purpose in life was also seen as a reflection of spirituality. It was postulated that the extent to which Steps 11 and 12 were practiced would be positively correlated with the extent of purpose in life reported by 100 Alcoholics Anonymous members. The major findings of this study are significant positive correlations between practice of Step 11 and purpose in life scores (r = .59, p < .001) and between Step 11 and length of sobriety (r = .25, p < .01). Number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings attended was significantly correlated with purpose in life scores (r = .24, p < .01) and length of sobriety (r = .25, p < .01). These findings suggest that a sense of purpose in life increases with continuing sobriety and practice of the spiritual principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. (J. Stud. Alcohol 54: 297-301, 1993)”

Reference using the Harvard System

Carroll S (1993) “ Spirituality and Purpose in Life in Alcoholism Recovery ‘ Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol 54, pp 297/301

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