Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organization that seeks to help its members achieve recovery from alcoholism through participation in the AA fellowship and adherence to a 12 step program. Reliance upon a Higher Power is a key tenet of AA, which could suggest a more externally-oriented locus of control. However, research has shown that a more internally-oriented locus of control is associated with longer sobriety. Abstinence self-efficacy and positive religious coping have also been associated with enhanced recovery from substance use disorders. The purpose of this study was to examine locus of control, abstinence self-efficacy, and spiritual coping style in a community sample of AA members. The relationship of locus of control and abstinence self-efficacy to length of sobriety was also examined. The participants were 76 subjects who were recruited from AA meetings in Northern California and the state of Washington. There were 43 females (57%) and 33 males (43%), with a mean age of 39.29 years, and a mean of 3.41 years of sobriety. Participants completed a research questionnaire regarding demographic data, AA involvement, addiction history, and religious and spiritual beliefs. They also completed the Drinking-Related Locus of Control Scale (DRIE), the Alcohol Abstinence Self-Efficacy Scale (AASE), and the Brief RCOPE, a measure of religious coping style. The results indicated that this sample endorsed a relatively internal locus of control, a fairly high level of abstinence self-efficacy, and a more positive than negative religious coping style. Support was found for several of the researcher's hypotheses: internal locus of control and positive religious coping were associated with higher abstinence self-efficacy; positive religious coping was associated with internal locus of control; and internal locus of control and higher levels of abstinence self-efficacy were associated with longer sobriety. Negative religious coping was not associated with lower abstinence self-efficacy, nor did it correlate with external locus of control. The results suggested that belief in a Higher Power and participation in AA were not incompatible with the constructs of internal locus of control and abstinence self-efficacy for this sample. Other findings, clinical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are also explored.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Alcoholics Anonymous; Alcoholics -- Rehabilitation; Alcoholism -- Treatment; Locus of control; Self-efficacy

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Mitchell, Cary;