Mutual-help group participation for substance use problems in the US: Correlates and trends from 2002 to 2018

Audrey Hang Hai, Sehun Oh, Christina S. Lee, John F. Kelly, Michael G. Vaughn, Christopher P. Salas-Wright

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Background: Mutual-help groups (MHGs) are an integral component of the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment system in the U.S., and growing evidence suggests that they are effective and cost-effective for SUD-related problems. However, not much is known about the MHG participation patterns in the U.S. Methods: Using the 2002–2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, we estimated the annual participation rates and examined the psycho-social-behavioral correlates of MHG participation using logistic regression. Results: There was no significant linear trend of MHG participation in the total US adult population between 2002 and 2018 (AOR = 0.999, 95% CI = 0.991–1.007). Among adults with past-year SUD, 4.8–7.4% of men and 4.4–6.7% of women participated in MHGs. MHG participants were more likely to be middle-aged (vs. young adults), lower education (less than high school, high school, some college vs. college or higher), lower income (annual household income <$20,000, $20,000–39,999 vs. $75,000 + ), be unemployed or not in the labor force (vs. employed), and were less likely to be Black/African American (vs. White American) and have lower English proficiency (speak English not well/not at all vs. very well/well),. Conclusion: MHG participation rates have remained relatively stable over the past two decades. MHGs were utilized more by individuals with lower socioeconomic status indicators and more criminal/legal involvement, possibly due to MHGs’ free accessibility. However, research is needed to understand why young adults, Black, and individuals with lower English proficiency are somewhat less likely to attend MHGs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107232
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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