Objective: In the United States, many people turn to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other mutual-help groups as a first source of help for an alcohol or drug problem, whereas others are introduced to A-A while in treatment. Because AA and similar groups in the United States add to the treatment system and function without governmental funds, they represent an important element in ongoing care for individuals with substance-use disorders in the health care system. In countries with free (or more affordable) and more comprehensive systems of care, their role is less clearly defined. Method: In this study, we compared men and women from representative treatment samples from studies with parallel designs, one Swedish (n = 1,525) and the other American (n = 926), to explore whether rates and correlates of attendance at 1-year follow-up (63% and 78% followed) differ by gender. We explore individual characteristics (demographic, severity, motivational) and formal and informal influences (treatment, mutual help, coercive, social) as possible help-seeking correlates of attendance. Results: In both countries, similar proportions of men and women attended mutual-help groups. However, twice as many U.S. clients reported attendance. Moreover, twice as many U.S. clients set abstinence as a treatment goal. In multivariate models, having an abstinence goal, a perceived need for treatment, suggestions from one's employment environment, and prior mutual-help attendance predicted posttreatment attendance for men and women in both countries. Gender differences were also found. Conclusions: Given the stages in which individuals seek care and the cyclical nature of relapse and recovery, mutual-help groups are an efficient resource in the continuum of services.
2010. Vol. 71, no 1, 125-135 p.