What is AVRT?

More and more people are asking me the question “What is AVRT?” so let me give you a basic introduction to the most important abbreviation in my life.

AVRT stands for Addictive Voice Recognition Technique and it’s a Thinking Skill which we can all learn to use in order to overcome our addiction to alcohol or drugs. AVRT is the birth child of American clinical social worker Jack Trimpey who founded the ‘Rational Recovery’ programme in 1986 (coincidentally the year I was born) and in the years that followed he wrote and released books to help spread the word of his revolutionary alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Jack believes that we can achieve total abstinence from alcohol and drugs and live our lives beyond the realms of ‘one day at a time’.

Our brain can be divided into two parts: There is the primitive animal brain which consists of the limbic system – essential for basic survival, and there are frontal lobes which are responsible for abstract thought, planning, and the other things which make us human.

The animal brain is responsible for essential things like breathing and sex, but also conditioned reflexes which include what we refer to as addiction. It is the limbic system which is responsible for the idea that we must pursue alcohol or drugs for short term reward. In Rational Recovery we all this our Beast.

The frontal lobes are the rational part of the brain and the real “you”.

By following AVRT it teaches us to distinguish between our beast brain and the rational brain – our real self. When the voice of our ‘Beast’ starts telling us to drink or use and sells it as the right thing to do at that time and place we can use AVRT to talk back to the Beast and shut it down.

Jack Trimpey talks in detail about the different ways in which we can recognise that our Beast is interacting with us and how to rationalise what it is suggesting and saying to us. Ultimately our Beast has no power other than speaking to us – it has no arms, legs or mouth so needs us to be the vehicle to feed it’s only desire and need.

I’m not going to sit here and say that by reading Jack’s book you’ll be immediately free from your Beast but it certainly was a game changer for me. It allowed me to understand my brain and my desires more which in the most part meant I could overcome the periods when I was maybe more vulnerable to picking up again. Day to day when you are focused on your new way of living you’ll probably not hear from your Beast because you are in a good emotional place and appreciating other natural highs of life such as exercise, good food, reading great literature, spending time with family, etc.

However, when you go through periods of stress in your life, fall out with people, have a shit day at work or have other people trying to persuade you to pick up this is where AVRT comes into it’s element. When you rationalise and shut down that Beast behaviour and remain abstinent you will get such a natural buzz from winning that battle and it will further strengthen your armoury and confidence that you are in control.

I’m not here to be a salesman for Jack or to copy and paste his words into my Blog but I’m acutely aware that AVRT is still relatively unknown in the mainstream which is a travesty given how good it can be as a recovery programme. I’m always here if you have any questions or feedback about AVRT so thank you for reading and speak again soon!