“Positive Emotions and the Success of Alcoholics Anonymous” was presented on September 20, 2016; by Dr. George E. Vaillant, MD; Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital. A 60-year study of adult development performed at Harvard University yielded fascinating information about alcohol use disorders and recovery. This presentation by the study director will present evidence based, prospective longitudinal research on why Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is the treatment of choice to achieve abstinence from alcohol lasting more than two years. The presentation will suggest the mechanisms by which A.A. achieves these goals. Dr. Vaillant will describe factors that have been found to be predictive of an individual developing alcohol dependency, common patterns found among study individuals in the onset and progression of alcohol dependency and in the initiation and sustainment of recovery from alcohol dependency, evidence supporting the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous, and mechanisms by which people with alcohol dependency achieve sustained sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous participation.
Dr. Vaillant is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital. He is graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School; Dr. Vaillant did his psychiatric residency at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center. He has spent his research career charting adult development, the importance of involuntary coping mechanisms, and recovery from alcoholism. From 1970 to 2005 he was Director of the Study of Adult Development at the Harvard University Health Service. The study is arguably the longest (75 years) prospective psychosocial and medical study of males in the world. More recently Dr. Vaillant has been interested in positive emotions and their relationship to Positive Psychology. In 2000 he became a founding member of Positive Psychology. He has been a Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a past Class A (nonalcoholic trustee) of Alcoholics Anonymous and is a Fellow of the International Positive Psychology Association. He has received the Jellinek Memorial Award and American Psychiatric Association Distinguished Service Award. His published works include Adaptation to Life, 1977, The Natural History of Alcoholism-Revisited, 1995, Aging Well, 2002, Spiritual Evolution, 2008 and Triumphs of Experience, 2012; and additional books and numerous journal articles.
This presentation is part of the Dawn Farm Education Series, a free, annual education series developed to provide accurate, helpful, hopeful, practical, current information about chemical dependency, recovery, family and related issues. The Education Series is organized by Dawn Farm, a non-profit community of programs providing a continuum of chemical dependency services. For information, please see http://www.dawnfarm.org/programs/education-series.