Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services



Committee Director

Nina W. Brown

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Tim Grothaus


Alcoholics Anonymous groups are growing in popularity due to their cost effectiveness and history of dependability. Although the program clearly has the numbers to support its popularity, skeptics continually analyze its claims of effectiveness through research. While research pertaining to AA is diverse, very little is presented concerning factors that contribute to retention in the program. The primary purpose for this quantitative study was to investigate the similarities and differences in the various stages of participants of a sample attending a local AA program, identify variables that contribute to retention in the AA sample, and to use Grounded Theory to develop a profile of long term attendees in the local AA program. This study analyzed the answers from an instrument that combined a demographics form used by the program Recovery for the Life, the Duke University Religion Index, and the Group Selection Questionnaire to determine the variables and characteristics of participants who attended and were retained in AA. Results indicated age and negative group demeanor were significant similarities for participants in the three groups of Newcomers, Chronic Relapsers, and Endurers and contributed to long term attendance in the local AA program. Results also indicated that age and negative group demeanor are inversely related to whether Newcomers and Chronic Relapsers have the potential to become Endurers. Discussion of the results and how they relate to the literature, implications for practitioners and recommendations for future research are also included.