Why are we pushing so hard in Chrio these days to get people to be in an 8 week small group? Because… community matters. It really does. While the groups that we’re doing are not AA, the research below shows just how valuable community is.
“An article from Wired Magazine explored why AA has been able to help millions of people recover from an alcohol addiction. The article begins by stating, “Despite all we’ve learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better.” The question is: Why does AA help so many people find and maintain sobriety?
This article focused on one factor: the power in a small group of like-minded friends who provide support, honesty, and accountability. The article described how honestly sharing problems with a small group of supportive friends has been shown to help people overcome their problems. As a few examples:
In 1905 a Boston physician named Joseph Pratt organized weekly meetings for patients with tuberculosis. He was simply trying to teach them better health habits; surprisingly, he discovered that the groups also excelled at providing emotional support. He concluded that by sharing about their “common disease” they developed a “common bond.”
In a more recent study at Stanford University, a pair of researchers reviewed over 200 studies on group therapy and concluded that group members “develop close bonds with the other members and are deeply influenced by their acceptance and feedback.”
A 2009 study of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder found that 88.3 percent of those who participated in group therapy no longer exhibited PTSD symptoms, versus just 31.3 percent of those who received minimal one-on-one interaction.
There is also evidence that the act of confessing one’s faults to a few safe people—enshrined in AA’s fifth step—helps in changing addictive patterns. According to the researchers, “Revealing one’s deepest flaws and hearing others do likewise forces a person to confront the terrible consequences of their alcoholism—something that is very difficult to do alone.”