How does AVRT work?


I recently wrote a blog post titled ‘What is AVRT?’ which has had a lot of reads from around the World over the last 6 weeks or so. This isn’t a boast, it just reaffirms that people are interested in finding out more about this mysterious alternative recovery programme.

I say ‘mysterious’ with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. It’s no cult and there is no underlying agenda against Alcoholics Anonymous despite what some of the AA Extremists will claim. AVRT is nothing more than a brain training technique which can then be used to end our relationship with drinking or using drugs. You don’t pay anybody to use AVRT and there are no meetings you have to attend. Your only costs are purchasing the book (which you can pick up online for around £10) and then putting the work in by following said book.

I won’t deny that the author and founder of AVRT (under the programme name ‘Rational Recovery’ ) is a bit heavy on AA at times in his book but the guy had used AA for years and has a lot of experience on both sides of the fence (as an alcoholic and a social worker) of how it works and what the teachings were. He is offering the reader an alternative but is also acutely aware most people reading his book have probably tried AA previously so he needs to put his point across why AVRT is different and why AA didn’t work for him and many of his clients.

The book was written over 20 years ago but the fundamentals of AVRT remain. AVRT is an Addictive Voice Recognition Technique which teaches us to identify our irrational mid brain which is crying out for alcohol and drugs as this part of our brain is all about survival (think fight or flight). The book then explores the rational part of our brain (the prefrontal cortex) – This is the part that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences.

So how does AVRT work?

AVRT is what we call in Psychology as a ‘Dissociative Technique’. It’s quite simply about identifying and separating ourselves from the addictive voice which exists in our mid-brain. We all have that voice in our head which persuades us to do things like drink, use drugs or take risks but this is irrational and goes against the way we should live our life day to day.

Let me be clear though – AVRT only works if you WANT to be sober. It’s not about moderating and half arsed breaks from using. This is about investing fully in the technique which changes our way of thinking towards alcohol and drugs and gives us the confidence and tools to enjoy a healthy sober life. As with anything it may take practice and not everybody achieves immediate sobriety but by following the technique in full there is no reason to use ever again. Those who have remained sober have that one thing in common.

By taking the view of “never say never” to getting drunk or high again you are always leaving the door slightly ajar to the possibility of picking up again. Can you honestly say to yourself that you NEVER AGAIN plan to drink or use again?

Only once you have made that decision to NEVER drink or use again can AVRT work. The book takes us through a number of important chapters on reaffirming what our addictive voice will try (call it tricks) to make us pick up again. Think of life events, scenarios, self doubt, etc. Looking at it rationally there is no excuse or reason to turn back to drink but our addictive voice will tell us otherwise. We associate alcohol and drugs with so many happy and sad life situations and events so it’s about dissociating. Imagine they were suddenly gone from Earth – life would go on and actually be a much better place!

If you say ‘I won’t drink today’ you may not feel much but if you say ‘I will never drink again in my lifetime’ there may be an immediate feeling of anxiety or doubt if you haven’t already closed the door on your addiction. That is your addictive voice. It is petrified of that idea.

Following Jack Trimpey’s words will lead you to not only gaining a better understanding of your own brain and addiction but assuming you are committed (and he will keep asking you this throughout the book) you will then create your own ‘Big Plan’ which is your fine print of always keeping control over your addictive voice.

The Rational Recovery book is over 350 pages long but in my opinion (that’s all I can offer) you can learn so much from around only 20-30 pages and keep returning to these. There are chapters which mean nothing to me because they talk about the politics of the American recovery landscape but the nuts and bolts of AVRT are clear and easy for anybody to follow.

I hope this continues to give you an overview of what Rational Recovery is and how AVRT generally works. I’m no replacement for the book and I’m certainly no expert in any addiction recovery field so all I can ever give you is my thoughts and experiences via this Blog. I’m not affiliated with Jack Trimpey in any way and I certainly gain nothing other than pleasure from writing about his self-recovery programme.

I seem to attract negativity (particularly from sections of the AA community) but this has never been about slating AA. I tried and didn’t like Alcoholics Anonymous on a personal level but I respect the programme for what it offers to people all over the World. I use an alternative way to remain clear of addiction and want to share this in the hope other like minded people can find it useful too.

Author: Happy Daddy

A married thirtysomething Dad of two young daughters navigating my way through life a day at a time

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