Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the oldest and most widely used mutual-help program for alcohol-related problems, yet AA is also one of the least understood approaches for recovery from alcoholism. This K02 application describes a career development plan to enlarge the candidate's knowledge in psychopathology, psychopharmacology, and statistics for the purposes of expanding on, and initiating , programmatic longitudinal research on AA. Four career objectives are specified, and five mechanisms are outlined to achieve these goals. One mechanism, an AA-focused conference for senior scientists (R13), bridges career and research objectives and offers a forum to set priorities in AA research. Knowledge gains are instrumental for developing a more ecological understanding of AA, and for transitioning from a senior methodologist to an independent scientist. A cohort longitudinal study of AA (N=300) is proposed (R01), with participants recruited from community-based AA, outpatient, and inpatient settings. The overall aim of the study is to gain new knowledge about how people move into, through, and out of AA over time, and how their participation in AA predicts drinking and other drug use. Consideration of current psychopathology and illicit drug use represents a significant broadening of contemporary AA-related research, one that mirrors current changes in AA membership characteristics. Advanced statistical techniques for modeling AA attendance and involvement trajectories over a two-year period are proposed, analyses that will account for potentially moderating effects of perceived utility of specific AA-related beliefs and practices. Measurement of perceptions of AA utility is anticipated to offer radically new definitions of AA affiliation and disaffiliation, definitions based upon the extent that AA-related practices and beliefs are adopted (and why) rather than on AA meeting attendance per se. In addition, specific hypotheses in the core AA literature, such as the distinction between abstinence and sobriety, and how sobriety is achieved, will be tested.
Study aims and career development activities are orchestrated to launch a career as an independent scientist, and to serve as a nexus for the emergent subdiscipline of AA-related research.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-FF (01))
Program Officer
Lowman, Cherry
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University of New Mexico
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Kuerbis, Alexis; Tonigan, J Scott (2018) More than Taking a Chair: The Perceived Group Social Dynamics of Alcoholics Anonymous Related to Changes in Spiritual Practices. Alcohol Treat Q 36:314-329
Wilcox, Claire E; Tonigan, J Scott (2018) Changes in depression mediate the effects of AA attendance on alcohol use outcomes. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 44:103-112
Wilcox, Claire E; Pearson, Matthew R; Tonigan, J Scott (2015) Effects of long-term AA attendance and spirituality on the course of depressive symptoms in individuals with alcohol use disorder. Psychol Addict Behav 29:382-91
Rice, Samara L; Hagler, Kylee J; Tonigan, J Scott (2014) Longitudinal trajectories of readiness to change: alcohol use and help-seeking behavior. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 75:486-95
Tonigan, J Scott; Rynes, Kristina N; McCrady, Barbara S (2013) Spirituality as a change mechanism in 12-step programs: a replication, extension, and refinement. Subst Use Misuse 48:1161-73
Pagano, Maria E; White, William L; Kelly, John F et al. (2013) The 10-year course of Alcoholics Anonymous participation and long-term outcomes: a follow-up study of outpatient subjects in Project MATCH. Subst Abus 34:51-9
Tonigan, J Scott; Rynes, Kristina; Toscova, Radka et al. (2013) Do changes in selfishness explain 12-step benefit? A prospective lagged analysis. Subst Abus 34:13-9
Rynes, Kristina N; Tonigan, J Scott; Rice, Samara L (2013) Interpersonal Climate of 12-step Groups Predicts Reductions in Alcohol Use. Alcohol Treat Q 31:167-185
Tonigan, J Scott; Martinez-Papponi, Brenda; Hagler, Kylee J et al. (2013) Longitudinal study of urban American Indian 12-step attendance, attrition, and outcome. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 74:514-20
Jenkins, Christopher O E; Tonigan, J Scott (2011) Attachment avoidance and anxiety as predictors of 12-step group engagement. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 72:854-63

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