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By Jack Trimpey and Cindy Gates, May, 1998

Ninety-two subjects who desired to quit the use of alcohol and other drugs were instructed on the method, Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT), during a seventeen month period. Sixty-five percent were found to be abstinent, using brief telephone queries by the instructor. The time period under investigation was divided into two halves and compared, to measure the effect of time on the stability of AVRT-based recovery. AVRT: The Course is a brief, educational program (eight 90-minute sessions), which instructs small groups of alcohol and drug dependent individuals on a simple, common means to end substance addictions. There is no discussion of medical, psychological, or spiritual matters, except for a simple presentation of addiction as a normal function of the healthy human body. Participants are offered an opportunity to make a personal commitment to permanent abstinence, coupled with a simple thinking skill (AVRT) which objectifies thoughts and feelings which support continued use of alcohol or drugs. The results occurred with no follow-up activities after the learning phase.

Total N = 92
Unable to contact: "?" = 8
Adjusted N (Total ­ ?) = 84
Abstinent after AVRT: The Course = 55 = 65.4%
Time range: Jan, 1997 to May, 1998 = 17 months
Midpoint: September, 1997, subject NUMBERED 58

71% male, 29% female
Alcohol only 62%
Street drugs (cocaine products, methamphetamine,
heroin, pot, etc.) 24%
Polydrug abuse (inc. alcohol), 14%
Previous 12-step exposure, 93%
Previous addiction treatment admissions, 26%

Since the Rational Recovery Center of Sacramento opened in January, 1997, a total of 105 persons have enrolled, thirteen of whom completed less than one half of AVRT: The Course. They left for various reasons, most commonly the persistent use of alcohol or drugs, which conflicted with class attendance. None were expelled.

First 8.5 months = 58 subjects, 33 abstinent = 56%, or 63% corrected*
Second 8.5 months 34 subjects, 22 abstinent = 65%, or 69% corrected*
NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE between first and second experimental groups.
The corrections subtract the interspersed "?" subjects (N ­ "?")

No abstinent subjects have attended recovery groups since AVRT: The Course. No abstinent subjects have received professional counseling for addictions.

While many addiction treatment programs produce optimistic initial abstinence rates following completion of the therapeutic program, results rarely reflect program dropout rates prior to completion, and the relapse rate usually increases with time following discharge. Moreover, aftercare typically requires intensive followup services including regular counseling sessions and frequent, even daily, attendance at recovery group meetings. During the 17-month window of this study, which involved no followup, aftercare services, or recovery group participation, no significant drop-off of abstinence was suggested by the data. Anecdotal evidence suggests that when subjects resume drinking/using following AVRT, they tend to remit promptly and spontaneously.
Although this study does not attempt to measure factors other than abstinence, this writer believes that the incremental benefits of AVRT-based recovery far exceed even the most optimistic therapeutic goals of addiction counseling and treatment programs. AVRT instructors observe a distinct, immediate lifting of mood immediately during and after the course of instruction, usually with a pervasive sense of relief from persistent depression and anxiety. This phenomenon of prompt remission from other problems is so predictable that in RR lore it is called the Abstinence Commitment Effect (ACE). Investigation of the ACE would appear to have an extraordinarily high priority for any agency interested in conservation of revenues earmarked for mental health services.
This study is unique in that it measures the "no-treatment" axis of addiction recovery. Grander studies, most notably the $25 million NIAAA study, PROJECT Match (1997), compare outcomes between various treatment modalities, with no control group for "no treatment." Also, most studies of outcome use measures other than abstinence, "soft measures" such as program compliance, reduction in the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed, the subsequent commission of crimes, reduced use of public services, etc.
AVRT-based recovery presents community agencies the challenge of accommodating newly-abstinent substance abusers so that they are rewarded for accepting individual responsibility. For example, they must be exempted from all services commonly prescribed for substance abusers, including attendance of recovery groups of any kind, residential treatment, counseling with the intended purpose of reducing the risk of relapse ("relapse prevention," motivational enhancement, sober lifestyle programs, etc.). Courts may regard offenders who participate in AVRT at face value, fully responsible and accountable for their actions, with equal standing before the law, but with due consideration to their lifetime abstinence commitment.

The results of this study strongly suggest that public agencies adopt the cost-effective methodology, Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT), as the first consideration with substance abusers, and as the logical choice when there is a history of unsuccessful exposure to addiction treatment programs or significant unsuccessful involvement in the recovery group movement. Further research, as also suggested by Marc Galanter (1992, American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 19 (4), pp. 499-510), is needed to refine our knowledge of self-recovery as a vital human resource. ##

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