Rational Recovery, an alternative to AA

Submitted by Tantra11 on
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I just heard about an alternative to AA called Rational Recovery, and the founder of this system has stated it also works for other addictions, not just drinking. He has an online sequence of short pages that lead you through a process where the claim is that afterwards (only a few minutes) you will be addiction free. I went through it myself, and I think it's a good thing to do and might even bring about the breakthrough he says will happen. Here's a link directly to this sequence:


Note: This guy is very anti-AA for some reason. I suggest ignoring his tirade and just go through these flashcards. They're helpful on their own, and you don't have to buy into his philosophy about why AA is bad to benefit. It's just an alternate way of looking at things and gives you another way to deal with addictive behavior, and I believe it's a powerful tool. There might not be a one size fits all path to recovery, though AA is tried and true (in my opinion). I say find the one that works for you, and this one's good. It's called Rational Recovery, I believe, because it's based on scientific principles (neuroscience and psychology) and it rejects AA ideas like how addiction is incurable, you have to say you're an addict for the rest of your life, "one day at a time," going to meetings for the rest of your life, belief and surrender to a higher power, etc.


This isn't the first time that has come up on this site. I think some people find it helpful. On the other hand, a lot people seem to do much better with the support of a group like SAA. Also RR is basically advocating quitting solely on willpower, but a lot of addicts have been eroding their willpower for a long time and can only begin to build it back up gradually.

Will power

I don't think it's quite true that it's will power. Maybe it's just semantics to sell people on his system, but I think he said that it's only will power if you engage the "Beast" in conversation. In RR, I think you don't even go there. You label the beast as "it", not "you," and only have conversation with "you," where you focus on how good it feels to be doing all the things you couldn't while addicted. Thus, supposely, there's no fight and therefore no need for will power. Is that realistic? Sounds far-fetched, given how powerful addictions are, but on the other hand, I've heard so many people in AA say that surrender to a higher power had the same effect and totally eradicated their urge to use. It makes no logical sense, but it does happen!

Again, though, I agree with you that the support of a group helps, not hinders like RR believes. Also, indeed, will power (or the "stop" circuitry in the forebrain) does rebuild gradually. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

The one thing I disagree with about the Beast or AV (Addictive Voice) idea is that it's seen as an enemy. RR hints at how it's an integral part of us and is necessary to survive, but after that, it just bashes it. I believe that all our inner demons are angels in disguise, and in the case of addiction, it was a self-medication at a time when we had nothing better. It should be honored for this, not demonized.


It's true that he's not advocating getting into a battle of wills with your AV. On the other hand, to just say, "That's my AV talking" and stop the train of thought there requires its own certain kind of willpower, doesn't it?

Not Sure

The founder would unerringly disagree, but I'm not sure. Maybe his system produces the shift like what I described seeing in people in AA where will power gets taken out of the picture? In AA they do it through surrender to the higher power, but in his, it's by identification to the forebrain. In both cases, will power seems to only come into play when you engage the AV, fight with it, but ultimately, it has no power. It's like the classic demon or devil. They seem enormously powerful, but when you get down to it, in an exorcism, all they ever do is talk. It's very seductive talk, but if the exorcist keeps his wits, he realizes it's still just talk. The RR thing described it as how the Beast has no arms and legs. Everything it does is by convincing you (who has control of your arms and legs) to do it, and if you actually see it for what it is, i.e. not you, then you stop listening to it. Only a person still thinking it's them will have to use will power. That's my take on it anyway, though, frankly, I'm like you in that it does still seem like it will take will power to shift one's thinking before all this happens. This is probably where what Marnia is saying about community support comes into play, but unfortunately RR is against community. He seems to think it creates the idea that the person is still sick and therefore needs a community, one that continues to tell the person he's an addict and that it's the disease, not him, if he relapses. He also seems to think that communities are manipulative and controlling. I disagree, so again, though the main idea is good, a lot of things come with it that are probably best ignored. Luckily, that can easily be done.

Anyway, I think the reason this RR idea resonated with me was not just because it seemed like a really good shift in thinking that could help a lot of people, but also because it led me to a deeper understanding of my own mind. Addiction can provide a doorway into the study of one's own subconscious for those interested. I started to feel the separation of the two brains, the midbrain and the forebrain, whereas normally, they seem just one, and then I started to get an idea of the characteristics of each, their sphere's of influence. It was interesting! All from a kinda simplistic, in my opinion, concept of the AV being like a separate entity, the Beast.

My problem with RR

is that he doesn't distinguish between those who are on their own and those who are surrounded by family and/or spouse. He assumes ego alone can get the job done, when in fact being part of a tribe is also at work (or not) in everyone's life. Still, his material is nice and clear.