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Joshua W. Lieuallen - Honors Thesis

”’How it Works’: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous"

First Reader: Julie Beicken, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Second Reader: Barbara Vail, Professor of Psychology


Clinicians and researchers are increasingly interested in the role of spirituality in substance abuse recovery, especially since both fields are generally understudied. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) proposes perhaps the most well-known spiritually-based program of recovery, contrasting traditional clinical treatments. Not only is AA commonly prescribed, but research shows that AA might be the most effective treatment for long-term sobriety. Even though research has empirically established that AA can be helpful for recovering alcoholics, the process(es) through which AA’s spiritual program achieves its abstinence outcomes is less understood, leaving a large gap in the literature on addiction recovery. AA’s ubiquity and success provide a catalyst for studying how spirituality can act as a mechanism of change. This project aims to describe AA’s dynamic spiritual mechanism from an interdisciplinary perspective. This will include exploring the sociological, psychological, and biological processes through which it appears AA’s spirituality operates.


Lieuallen, Joshua W. "A Tragedy of Tea, Trading, and Turmoil: A Social History of India Under the East India Company" 
Honors Senior Thesis, Rocky Mountain College, 2017.

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