EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


The Impact of Religious Affiliation on College Students’ 12-step Model Preferences

Author ORCID Identifier

Michael McClellanORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-4094-0999



Document Type


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Previous research has suggested that younger generations are reporting lower levels of religious affiliation and are more likely to drop out of traditional 12-step recovery programmes such as Alcoholics Anonymous than previous generations. The present study examined whether 110 millennial- and Generation Z-aged, college-students who were assessed for religiosity and substance use patterns preferred the language used in the traditional 12-step model vs. an alternative version of the model that was designed to emphasise personal empowerment over a higher power. Participants who identified as religious displayed a stronger preference for the wording of the traditional 12-step model when compared to the alternative 12-step model, however, all groups preferred the wording of the alternative 12-step model compared to the traditional 12-step wording. These findings suggest that millennial- and Generation Z-aged individuals may have a preference for language and treatment approaches that are less focused on faith and more focused on self-empowerment.

Journal Title

Mental Health, Religion, and Culture

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