©2006, Jack Trimpey, all rights reserved.
- Why can’t you just say what Rational Recovery is, instead of attacking other methods and organizations?
- Why do you have to constantly put down AA?
- I can’t accept any sales pitch or product based on criticizing some other product.
- AA has helped millions of people, so it doesn’t make any sense to keep criticizing it.
- AA is proven successful, the only thing that really works, so there’s no sense in putting it down.
- You’re a dry-drunk; get back to meetings and you won’t be such an angry, miserable person.
- You’re just in it for the money.
- How many alcoholics have you killed today, Trimpey?
These are among the more polite complaints Lois and I have been receiving since we launched Rational Recovery® twenty-one years ago. Outrage over our “AA-bashing” continues, as part of an unending, ideological firefight between the force of addiction, AA, and the force of recovery, AVRT®. Alas, it cannot be otherwise, for both addiction and recovery are in the balance as the debate rages on. Addiction recovery depends largely upon doing the exact opposite of the guidance given by Alcoholics Anonymous. We criticize AA not to put people in recovery down, but to give them hope for freedom and dignity through secure, lifetime abstinence.
The force of addiction
The force of addiction is the bodily desire for the pleasurable effects of alcohol and other drugs. It is a stong desire, one that arises from the force of life itself, the pleasure drive associated with survival. Hunger and sexual desire are both good examples of survival drives, and we all know how compelling they can seem to be. One’s thoughts, feelings and behavior become organized around addictive pleasures, as if one’s life depended upon the use of alcohol and other drugs.
Because addictive pleasures are so much greater than mere food and sex, nutrition and family relationships cannot compete with addiction, with devastating results. Such inverted priorities usually lead addicted people onto the rocky shoals of misery and hopelessness — and, too often, into the recovery group movement.
Newcomers to recovery groups are nearly always looking for the means to quit their addictions and stay quit. They are not looking for a new religion, nor for a new circle of friends, nor for a new family or home, nor for juvenile dependency on others. They simply want to get alcohol and other drugs out of their lives so they can live in freedom and dignity.
All newcomers know, or at least strongly suspect, that they will have to cease drinking/using altogether, very likely for the rest of their lives. As they prepare to attend their first recovery group meeting, newcomers are ready for change, prepared for the bittersweet pill of lifetime abstinence, hoping to find some inside tips on self-restraint and some encouragement from those who succeeded.
The force of addiction, however, creates a special way of thinking, the Addictive Voice, which dignifies and preserves the option of self-intoxication. Substance abusers will eagerly believe recovery group doctrines that frame the stupid and immoral act of self-intoxication as a disease symptom, thereby making them appear as innocent disease victims instead of stupid or immoral people.
Imagine a newcomer’s amazement, to be met by men and women who have not resolved their own addictions, saying that recovery is a lifetime struggle against encroaching bodily desires and diseased thinking! Groupers present newcomers with the standard line of shocking, seductive, bad advice, “If you could‘ve quit, you would’ve quit, but you didn’t quit, which proves you can’t quit.” Then comes the bait, “You don’t have to quit forever; just stay sober one-day-at-a-time and keep coming back. It works if you work it.” The hook of continued self-intoxication (yummy relapses!) is thereby set, satisfying the first rule of addiction: Never say never to alcohol and other drugs. Finally, the sinker is the disease concept of addiction, which weighs down healthy men and women at precisely the moment they are wisey trying to rise above bodily desire and leave alcohol and other drugs behind.
Hook, line, and sinker, each AA member swallows the poisonous bait of one-day-at-a-time sobriety, along with an inverted lifestyle based upon the force of addiction, rather than upon the force of recovery. Addicted people are profoundly suggestible to any continued self-intoxication; after all, isn’t it because they feel powerless over their desire to get high that they are looking for help?
All mottoes aside, millions of men and women have not been helped by AA. Millions of men and women, however, have been waylaid by AA precisely at the time when they were on the brink of total recovery, during a moment of clarity and circumspection when they intuitively knew that they would soon have to quit drinking/using altogether, not one-day-at-a-time, but for life. Sadly, they were met by the friendly, cunning face of chronic addiction, “You don’t have to quit for life; just one-day-at-a-time. Keep coming back; it works if you work it,” and so on, and OnAnon. Recovery groupism has destroyed more lives than addiction itself. Unaided by recovery doctrines, addiction may be easily and promptly defeated through moral judgment and free will.