“To silence our addictive voice, we must summon a more rational voice. A voice that truly knows what’s best for you. The louder this ‘Rational’ voice gets, the quieter the addictive voice becomes”
That is a very simplistic way of looking at Rational Recovery and AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique) but it is essentially just that. Our craving for that substance or your substances of choice is driven by our internal thought process. We all have inner battles with ourselves and that is where Rational Recovery focuses on. Overcoming our inner voice – our addictive voice.
Rational Recovery isn’t Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the most commonly known addiction recovery programme in the World. Rational Recovery has no steps and there are no formal meetings. Sure, you will find communities out there including online who follow Rational Recovery but it’s not built around group gatherings. AA refers a lot to a ‘Higher Power’ and for many people it’s the spiritual or religious link to AA which has been a key driver in making the programme a success for them.
With Rational Recovery the refusal to recognise the disease model of addiction is a key difference to other programmes like AA. We don’t identify as recovering junkies, drunks, addicts. Again, you will have seen at meetings yourself or via the media that in AA it is very common to start your period of dialogue in meetings by stating “I’m [INSERT NAME] and I’m an alcoholic”.
I see addiction and alcoholism as voluntary behaviours, and because of this thought process I believe they can be overcome. The founder of the Rational Recovery Programme Jack Trimpey who describes himself as “recovered” says in the RR book;
“Addiction is a voluntary behaviour that persists against your own better judgement. Thus, addiction can’t be diagnosed or attributed to you by others, including Doctors. It is solely up to you to decide if your drinking threatens or harms others and yourself. You must decide now whether continuing your addictive pleasures is worth the destruction that will likely result.”
Trimpey clearly had a bad experience with AA and that is expressed in his book a lot but I’d say it’s important to look beyond his own view – he used AA in the 1980s and he lives in the USA where there are a lot of cultural differences to that of say me, a millennial from the UK. A lot has changed and hundreds of thousands of people have successfully used AA since it’s inception back in the 1930s. Meetings will vary from one to another and I’d never dismiss AA based solely on the people aspect of it. I tried AA and the only reason I didn’t stick with it was because of the Book in which the meetings and programme are based around. I read a lot of the book and it just didn’t connect with me. Rational Recovery did.
So anyways, Trimpey’s distain for AA aside let’s get back on track here. Whether you have tried AA, are in AA or have never tried AA it isn’t important. It’s whether you agree with the principles of Rational Recovery and can wholly commit to using AVRT.
So first of all – Are you ready to not drink/use again? This isn’t about taking it a day at a time or moderating, we are talking abstaining for the rest of your life. This programme is about disconnecting from alcohol or drugs and not leaving any door open for a return. We can all do this but we need to WANT to.
If you ask yourself this question there is a very good chance you will feel uncomfortable answering it or maybe even struggle to answer it all together.
Are you prepared to never drink alcohol ever again?
Be honest, are you struggling to give a genuine “Yes”? This is your “addictive voice.” Your addictive voice is from the part of the brain that controls core survival functions such as hunger and sex. When this “voice” isn’t being supplied with the only thing it cares for (alcohol or drugs) it leads to you experiencing anxiety, depression, restlessness and irritability. So you feed it. And the stuff you feed it with then causes you to feel anxious, depressed, restless and irritable. Great cycle isn’t it?
To silence the addictive voice, we learn to summon a more rational voice as I mentioned earlier. That is where the book comes in. If you stick to what the book tells you to do (and by that I mean not cutting corners and adapting it) there are plenty people out there in long term abstinence who will confirm it works. I’m still in the early months of my journey (around 4 months now) but I am feeling in more control now than I ever did in the 15 months I was sober but ‘winging it’ before I picked alcohol up again.
I’ve read a lot of books about how our brains work, neuro-linguistics and psychology, etc. The best way I can describe the book is that it teaches you to understand your inner thinking more and by simplistically breaking this down into ‘voices’ it allows you to understand why you get those urges and thoughts to go back to using even though you really wan’t to stop. It really makes sense to me and by understanding the ‘Why’ behind my past alcohol cravings it is allowing me to leave that part of my life behind once and for all.
It’s not my place to try and rewrite the book and I’m certainly not the best person to go into detail regarding AVRT as I’m still learning the programme myself however what I will say is that I have spoken to and listened to enough people in the Recovery Community to know that this is a very credible and realistic way of overcoming your addiction once and for all – but only if you are ready to.