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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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.
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.