Mental health

Role of mutual help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Question 6: Should non-specialist health care providers refer alcohol dependent patients and their family members to mutual help groups such as AA?

Management of alcohol use disorder

  • Population: patients with alcohol dependence and their family
  • Interventions: AA and similar (or Alanon or similar for family)
  • Comparison:
    • other self-help programmes
    • care as usual
  • Outcomes:
    • alcohol consumption risk patterns
    • alcohol consumption
    • alcohol related harm
    • psychosocial functioning.


Non-specialist health care workers should familiarise themselves with locally available mutual help groups (such as AA), and should encourage the alcohol dependent patient to engage with such a group.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Non-specialist health care workers should monitor the impact of attending the group on the patient with alcohol dependence.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Family members of patients with alcohol dependence should also be encouraged to engage with an appropriate mutual help group for families.
Strength of recommendation: STANDARD

Evidence profile