Rational Recovery (RR) is a source of counseling, guidance, and direct instruction on self-recovery from addiction, alcohol and other drugs through planned, permanent abstinence designed as a direct counterpoint to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and twelve-step programs. RR was founded in 1986 by Jack Trimpey, a California licensed clinical social worker. Rational Recovery is a for-profit organization. Trimpey works in the field of treatment of alcoholism and other drug addictions. He admits to 25 years of "world class alcoholism", from which experience he developed his system of self recovery.
The program is offered via the Internet and through books, videos, and lectures. The Rational Recovery program is based on the premise that the addict both desires and is capable of permanent, planned abstinence. However, the RR program recognizes that, paradoxically, the addict also wants to continue using. This is because of his belief in the power of the substance to quell his anxiety; an anxiety which is itself partially substance-induced, as well as greatly enhanced, by the substance. This ambivalence is the Rational Recovery definition of addiction.
According to this paradigm, the primary force driving an addicts predicament is what Trimpey calls the "addictive voice", which can physiologically be understood as being related to the parts of the human brain that control our core survival functions such as hunger, sex, and bowel control. Consequently, when the desires of this "voice" are not satiated, the addict experiences anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure). In essence, the RR method is to first make a commitment to planned, permanent abstinence from the undesirable substance or behavior, and then equip oneself with the mental tools to stick to that commitment. Most important to recovering addicts is the recognition of this addictive voice, and determination to remain abstinent by constantly reminding themselves of the rational basis of their decision to quit. As time progresses, the recovering addict begins to see the benefits of separating themselves and their rational minds from a bodily impulse that has no regard for responsibility, success, delayed gratification, or moral obligation.
While nomenclature differs, the methods are similar to those used in Cognitive Therapy of Substance Disorders (Beck, et al.) and other belief-, attitude- and appraisal-challenging and cognitive restructuring schemes.
The RR program is based on recognizing and defeating what the program refers to as the "addictive voice" (internal thoughts that support self-intoxication) and dissociation from addictive impulses. The specific techniques of Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT) are concerned with demonstrating to the practitioner that the practitioner is in control of the addictive voice, not the other way around.
In his book, Rational Recovery, Trimpey calls the addict's addictive voice "the Beast". He proposes that this is the sole reason why addicts continue their self destructive ways. Furthermore, by recognizing any feeling, image, urge, etc. that supports drinking/using as "Beast activity", the compulsions will fall silent, and the person can eventually regain control over their life and never worry about relapses. Although addiction is a life-long battle, it is much easier to say "no" to the addictive voice, than to give in. Moreover, this separation of the rational self from the relentless "Beast" will, Trimpey says, enable addicts to always remain aware of the repercussions associated with a single relapse.
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