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Moving on from Crime and Substance UseTransforming Identities$
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Anne Robinson and Paula Hamilton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447324676

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447324676.001.0001

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Alcoholics Anonymous: sustaining behavioural change

Alcoholics Anonymous: sustaining behavioural change

(p.195) Nine Alcoholics Anonymous: sustaining behavioural change
Moving on from Crime and Substance Use

James Irving

Policy Press

This chapter concentrates on the practices of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and how they facilitate behavioural change. The author analysed intensive interviews with long-term members of AA using a framework that focused on motivation to engage, structured social engagement (through the activities of AA) and personal agency. The resulting model (presented as a helix to represent progression over time) illustrates the way that individuals use support from AA and the understandings of their problem drinking – reflecting AA language and concepts in what the author terms ‘linguistic echoes’ – to maintain sobriety. Although there may be limits to identity transformation while still engaged with the organisation as ‘sober alcoholics’, the programme emphasises moral reflection and commitment to new norms and beliefs which are key elements of desistance processes.

Keywords:   Alcoholics Anonymous, AA sponsorship, behavioural change, social engagement, moral reflection, desistance

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