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Why Self-Recovery?

Jack Trimpey, ©2003


It is not well-known that self-recovery is commonplace. For ages, seriously addicted people have simply quit the use of alcohol and other drugs and then gotten on with their lives. It is also common for people to abruptly quit gambling, smoking, overeating, stealing,  and commiting sexual error when the results of thouse indulgnces becomes too painful. Today, millions of seriously addicted people simply get fed up with the results of their addictions, make a decision to abstain no matter what, and then move on to discover new and better satisfactions.

Free from the undertow of addiction, these independent people immediately feel better and do better in every respect. Their problems, including the problems they thought they were "medicating" with alcohol or other drugs, fade or vanish, and the anguish of addiction is soon covered by the sands of time. Freedom and dignity lost to addiction is finally regained.

These independently recovered people greatly outnumber the combined membership of the support group networks, but in our society, they are overlooked as if they don't exist. Rational Recovery identifies the self-recovered as a national treasure, for they obviously know something that is more important than all the scientific research ever done on the subjects of addiction and recovery. The self-recoved are the real experts on addiction recovery. They are the inspiration and the mentors of Rational Recovery.

The American Addiction Tragedy
It is tragic that the precious wisdom of the self-recovered has been obscured and replaced by the collective voice of those who remain in the state of addiction, people who who have not recovered, but are only "in recovery," engaged in a peculiar lifestyle that provides social support for tentative, one-day-at-a-time sobriety, and chastises more ambitious commitments. They know nothing of true recovery, have no information on how to abstain from alcohol and drugs, and they actively prevent members from summarily quitting and moving on. Of course, I am speaking of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the other 12-step organizations that pose as solutions to problems they actually prevent from being solved.

Naming AA this way breaks one of our strongest cultural taboos, that of “AA-bashing.” With so much at stake in every case of addiction, let us abandon sentiments and take a closer look at the organization that has injected itself into our social service system wherever substance abuse and addiction come to attention. Most importantly, the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is deeply antagonistic toward traditional family values upon which the United States of America was originally founded.

Fellowships of addiction

AA is merely the name currently given to an underclass of society characterized by unbridled  self-intoxication with alcohol and other drugs. All through human history, people have gathered together for the common purpose of Baccanalian revelry, forming relationships that extend beyond the tavern or roadhouse into the real world where the larger human endeavors unfold. Those relationships, wherever two or more substance abusers get together, are fellowships of addiction, cemented by their shared knowledge of deep addictive pleasures. Such relationships are intimate relationships, even though the individuals may be strangers to each other in other respects.

Drinkers and drug users have a natural affinity for each other, tend to associate somewhat exclusively with each other, and upon meeting, they exhibit unwarranted familiarity with each other. Although just newly-acquainted, they may regard each other as if they were long-term, fast friends. Fellowships of addiction are purposeful, protective relationships, actually alliances to defend against the natural consequences of their self-indulgences. As the notorious comedian/imbiber, W. C. Fields, aptly put it, “Never trust a man who doesn’t drink.”

It must be understood that AA is a fellowship of addiction, and not a fellowship of recovery. In other words, the membership consists entirely of people who have not, and will not, summarily quit the use of alcohol and other drugs. Rather, they reserve for themselves the option of “relapses,” or drinking episodes under color of addictive disease. Consequently, the beliefs and values of AA, as exemplified by its backwards-thinking 12-step program, are the beliefs and values of addicted people, and not of recovered people. AA founder, Bill Wilson, was fully in the grip of his own addiction when he experienced beatific visions and transcribed the venerated 12-step program. I said, “transcribed,” because the program was delivered to him during a trance, in the form of automatic handwriting, which he believed originated in a netherworld.

The recovery group movement has cell groups in every community, and through its network of thousands of nonprofit organizations, very aggressively advances its agenda in our social service system and public information services. Its enthusiastic members make false but strangely appealing claims about the nature of addiction and recovery.

For example, thousands of nonprofit organizations promulgate the beliefs that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is caused by a mysterious disease, that there are medical treatments for that disease, that recovery is best approached by purposely allowing the possibility of continued use of alcohol and other drugs, and that in order to stay sober, one must socialize primarily with other substance abusers, usually after dark. Other non-profit organizations have embarked upon “no stigma” campaigns, giving substance abusers protections against public disgrace, discrimination in the workplace, and other privileges often accorded truly sick and disabled people. At face value, something is gravely amiss here. The recovery group movement protects the interests of its members, making the world more tolerant of substance abuse and hospitable toward substance abusers.

Groupers often tell skeptical newcomers, "If you can quit on your own, then you didn't have the problem in the first place." The "problem" in question here is “alcoholism“ or addictive disease, which is said to render one powerless over the desire to drink or use, and incapable of quitting in the first place. In other words, by choosing to continue drinking against your own better judgment, you seem to prove you are incapable of quitting, and therefore exempt from any expectation by you, your family, the court, or God, that you would summarily quit once and for all. The newcomer is told, "If you could have quit, you would have quit, but you didn't quit, which proves you cannot quit." This is a very nasty trap, because from within the bubble of addiction, permanent abstinence appears difficult and painful to undertake, while one-day-at-a-time "sobriety" is strangely comforting.

Betrayal by health professionals
The American addiction tragedy is not so much that the addicted are leading the addicted, but that the professional community has endorsed the Addictive Voice of the recovery group movement. Accordingly, our social service system now requires all addicted people to remain in addiction, in a tentatively abstinent condition known as "in recovery."

It is not surprising that when addicted people provide guidance to other addicted people, the abstinent outcome is near zero. Those who leave recovery groups or undertake recovery through self-restraint do much better than those who remain in recovery groups or addiction treatment programs, according to sources including AA's official publication, The Grapevine. In May, 2001 The Grapevine reported that over 60% of all successful recoveries occur independently, without the use of recovery groups, professional counseling, or addiction treatment programs. We think the actual percentage is 100%, a view supported by AA's 1989 Triennial Membership Survey, which disclosed that about 2% of newcomers are consistently abstinent after five years of program participation. When you hear, "Nothing is better than AA," believe it!

There are some AA clones ("alternatives") that also use the group format, but substitute humanistic psychology for the religiosity of AA, in an attempt to root out hidden, psychological causes of addiction. There is no substantial difference between AA/NA and the psych-recovery organizations, and both kinds are wedded to the addiction treatment industry. Whether medical or psychological, the disease concept of addiction is without scientific merit, and impressive research (Project MATCH) shows that psych-recovery organizations are just as ineffective as AA/NA. All treatment providers and recovery group organizations actively suppress information on independent recovery for obvious reasons of self-interest.

Stay away from recovery groups.
If recovery groups and addiction treatment simply didn't work, that would be reason enough to avoid those avenues. The truth is that recovery groups and addiction treatment are harmful to practically everyone involved, including families. The reason is very simple, as follows.

People voluntarily attending their first recovery group meeting are already on the brink of full recovery! They need only guidance and encouragement from other veterans of the struggle against addictive desire. None are “in denial;” they obviously know they have a problem, and are obviously mobilized to take some constructive action. They already strongly suspect or fully understand that, to escape the pain of addiction, they will have to forego the use of alcohol and other drugs, most likely for the rest of their lives.

When they walk through the door for their first meeting, they are looking for guidance from people who have actually recovered from addiction. The recovery group newcomer already has a foundation of knowledge, beliefs and values gained from his original family and his life experience. He is not shopping for a new religion, does not want or need spoon-fed wisdom, and has no desire or need for adult supervision. Recovery group newcomers desperately want "inside information" from successfully recovered people on how to abstain from alcohol and other drugs. They desperately need encouragement that they are entirely capable of succeeding on their own efforts and have a 100% chance of success in reaching the goal of secure, permanent abstinence in a mercifully brief time.

The recovery group newcomer assumes that he is passing through a group that will help him function independently. He is unaware that the group has designs to possessdependent upon the group as an external, social restraint and to accept the group as the primary source of truth, wisdom, and guidance in all of his personal affairs. The group’s demand for submission is called a "suggestion," but to desperate people the meanings are one and the same, e.g., "We suggest that after jumping you open your parachute."

Newcomers are shocked back from the brink of recovery and made ashamed of their “foolish, sick” desire to simply quit using once and for all. They are cast into a passive mode of socializing with others who share epiphanies, crippling beliefs, testimonials, and the amazing rhetoric of recovery group doctrine. Along with dismay at the inversions of truth, comes relief from the burden of self-restraint, as in the oft-repeated oath, "When I learned I have a disease, it was as if a great burden was lifted from my shoulders." him. Instead of receiving guidance or encouragement in abstinence, he is hit broadside with the demand that he surrender his struggle against bodily desire, give up the idea that abstinence is a sufficient goal, and that he cast himself upon the mercy of a newfound higher power of his own sodden imagination. He is admonished to mistrust his own better judgment, relying upon the group and juvenile dependency upon another impaired person, a “sponsor.”

Families are always bewildered at the "biopsychosocial" mysteries that surround habitual drunkenness or drug abuse. Some are seriously put off by the encroaching weirdness of 12-step recovery, especially the contradiction of the family’s beliefs on fundamental life issues. However, families may find solace in the idea that their family member is not the self-indulgent ass he/she appeared to be, but only a disease victim worthy of charitable indulgence, requiring the nightly support of other addicts, practicing a strange, new religion, and in need of expensive treatment by experts who, themselves, are only “sober, one-day-at-a-time.” Little do they know that the recovery group introduces itself to its members as “your new family,” that the group claims the highest loyalty (over family!) and that the rituals of recoveryism include shifting responsibility for addiction upon one’s ancestors and immediate, dysfunctional family. Families often feel so burdened as “enablers” and “codependents” that they allow their addicted loved one to reserve the privilege of relapse, when certain, usually undefined, conditions exist, and actually feel responsible when their addicted family member has an intensely pleasurable, perhaps regrettable, “relapse.”

Addiction shapes our perceptions.
What our common sense and better judgment tell us, the recovery group transforms into a special kind of upside-down truth. For example, to an addicted person, the use of alcohol and other drugs is not morally wrong, but intoxicated behavior is -- after the fact of self-intoxication, when judgment is already obliterated. In the recovery group, free will does not apply to the use of alcohol and other drugs, but only to program compliance. The desire to be in control is an example of powerlessness. Intelligence is a liability; caring for others is co-dependence. We use because of and in spite of enablers. Our strengths are our weaknesses. We are victims more than perpetrators. We create God, not vice-versa. We need support to do the right thing. We should congregate with other substance abusers, with the understanding that we are not exactly normal people.

For all recovery group newcomers, the first meeting is a strange and memorable event beset with conflicted values and feelings. On one hand, the rituals of inventories and sharing seem meaningful, even providential, but on the other hand, they also appear wrong-headed, strange, or simply irrelevant. While the group seems a haven of hope and personal betterment, a look around the room finds a forlorn, group-bound fellowship of men and women who have far more than their share of problems, who aspire to little more than one-day-at-a-time "sobriety," and who collectively represent an average of a month or two since their last use.

The newcomer faces a unified group that ridicules free will, and claims that their upside-down program "works if you work it," and that no one can "go it alone." The group teaches him to attribute all of his doubts and reservations about the organization or the program to "denial," starting with his resistance to calling himself "alcoholic" or "addict." At the moment he names himself "alcoholic," or "addict," his problem drinking or drug use is transformed into chronic addiction, and his life is defined by one-meeting-at-a-time recoveryism.

Life "in recovery" is life in addiction, complete with addict-identity, the sacrament of relapse, and the distortions of logic and perception that accompany the high life. These distortions combine as a serious, disabling condition, recovery group disorder, characterized by increasing self-doubt, social alienation, relapse anxiety, group dependence, increased drinking or using, free-fall-to-bottom, and depression. With time, many people "in recovery" are faced with an impossible choice between two equally intolerable alternatives - life in addiction and life in recovery. The choice is truly impossible because it is between two forms of the same thing, and the resulting hopelessness and depression can be, and often is, fatal.

Suicide among substance abusers is common: more than 75% of all suicides involve alcohol and other drugs and according to a 1984 National Institute of Mental Health finding, 25 percent of deaths among treated alcoholics are suicides, most occurring within one year of addiction treatment. Recovery groups and addiction treatment are a bad bet!

Go with the real experts on addiction recovery.
The good news is that self-recovery is surprisingly easy, without mystery, follows your own native beliefs and intuitions, and feels good immediately and in the long run as well. Your past difficulties in recovery groups or addiction treatment do not reflect upon your motivation or upon your ability to succeed, but are simply the results of misguidance. I am perfectly confident in your ability to independently abstain from alcohol and other drugs under all conditions, for the rest of your days, even though you may have serious self-doubt.

However, part of addiction is profound self-doubt and hopelessness about the possibllity of normal, satisfying adult life – without the option of addictive pleasures. It will be necessary for you to believe in yourself in order to defeat your addiction. That means overcoming the discouragement of many years in the long rut of addiction, as well as the expert advice of the multitude of experts who surround you, all pointing to groups, shrinks, and rehabs. It also means defying the authority of AA, which has a terrible grip on our social service system, reaching through mass communications even those who are not members with its doctrines of disease, powerlessness, and surrender. Even your family will not trust you, so you will have to find within yourself the desire to succeed, and believe that you will succeed.

Rational Recovery is the only source of information on independent recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs through planned, permanent abstinence. Our exclusive method, Addictive Voice Recognition Technique® (AVRT®) is by far the most cost-effective, dignified, and efficient route to addiction recovery in existence.

This website is the staging area for your recovery, and a reliable resource for your family or anyone else affected by your addiction or interested in your well-being. You can learn some basics of AVRT® in this public access area, participating at any level within a wide range of goods, services, information, and assistance.

Although we are firmly opposed to charity for persons claiming the pretend disease of “alcoholism” or addiction, the essentials of AVRT-based recovery are offered free of charge at this website, as a public service by the tax-paying corporation, Rational Recovery Systems, Inc.

Jack Trimpey, former drunk
Founder, Rational Recovery®
President, Rational Recovery Systems, Inc.

© Copyright, 2014, Rational Recovery Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.