Since there seem to be as many interpretations of AA as there are AA members and since it cannot be known how AA is individually practised, it is questionable whether AA allows for an assessment that meets scientific criteria. Yet despite the lack of scientific evidence, many believe - based on personal experience - that AA works. That these believers are all brainwashed seems unlikely (and would be difficult to prove) yet even if they were, the fact that they were drinking before joining AA and then stopped might indicate that their sobriety has something to do with AA.
Cause-and-effect methodologies seem not suited to explain the complexity of addiction and addiction treatment for they appear not able to make sense of the contradictions and paradoxes that are part of human behaviour. Moreover, they can't measure core factors such as motivation or belief that are crucial for any recovery. This failure also suggests that AA's act yourself into a new way of thinking might be preferable to treatment based on identifying causes and symptoms.
Future research and treatment need to find ways to address "the non-logical aspects" (the miracles, contradictions and paradoxes) of addiction and to adapt, complement, and possibly rethink, the cause-and-effect methodology.
Hans Durrer: Does AA work?