Rational Recovery is Pure Partisanship

by The Discovering Alcoholic on August 31, 2010

Wife’s chemotherapy and offline work taking precedence, so here’s another from the 07 archive.

par•ti•san (pär t -z n)
n.
1. A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
2. A member of an organized body of fighters who attack or harass an enemy, especially within occupied territory; a guerrilla.

It took me a little while to get back to the last review on my Beating a Dead Horse list even though this is the book that inspired the series in the first place, Jack Trimpey’s Rational Recovery. While it would take an utter suspension of disbelief, the title suggests a presentation of the “new” cure for substance addiction that will allow one to “remain sober—effortlessly—for the rest of your life.” Now before we go into the content of this book let me state in advance that regardless of what I feel about his recovery techniques, I think Mr. Trimpey’s advertising methods are reprehensible. I had to filter his advertisements off my site because I found them both distasteful and counterproductive. I scanned a few of my favorite recovery blogs to see if could find a suitable example but found none showing, so I can only hope he discontinued them because he came to believe the same. All you have to do is go to his website to see that he is the self proclaimed king of AA bashing and his comments on the subject go beyond borderline to fanatical on a regular basis. In my humble opinion, Mr. Trimpey’s group is a for-profit business venture whose almost militant partisan attacks against AA and 12 step programs make him no better than the small minority of radical fundamentalists in these groups that he obviously views as the competition and the enemy.

One good thing I can say about Mr. Trimpey is that he believes total abstinence from alcohol and drugs is paramount to long term recovery, something in which I can wholeheartedly concur.

Click “Read more” to read the review…

The basis of Mr. Trimpey’s book is recognizing one’s “addictive voice” and learning how to deny the “beast” from which it emanates, basically abstinence. I really do think these branded terms are helpful and may be the catalyst for the self-introspection that is so necessary for anyone dealing with substance abuse or addiction issues. However, I think that he is being misleading by referring to recovery as an event instead of a process. Using his pseudo-science bestial analogy he seems to write off in toto the disease concept of addiction.

I think it is rather simplistic to believe the solution for the chronic alcoholic is to simply quit drinking, as if years of a certain lifestyle and mental molding reinforced by a chemical dependency can be shrugged off with a snap decision to abstain. This over-generalization is even more pronounced in the portion of the book where he goes into detail of the “beast” and brain function. While I agree with parts of his explanation on the subject, studies by Dr. Volkow and others on the science of addiction show even now how little any of us comprehend the subject.

Mr. Trimpey writes off all of AA and 12 step programs as harmful as if every group was stamped out in a factory instead of being comprised of unique individuals, as if the subject of addiction and treatment was not rife with grey area. Just as he accuses his self-appointed opponents, he takes the my-way-or-the-highway stance of the fundamentalist. There are certainly some people involved in AA and similar 12 step programs that deserve calling out, but Mr. Trimpey champions a conspiracy theorist’s view that I find to be over-the-top.

What’s the TDA recommendation on the book? Like always, I am all for a program that helps people stay sober. I have my doubts that the methods of Mr. Trimpey will work on the chronic alcoholic and addict, but there is always hope. I would recommend the book to almost all those in recovery, but it would not be my first choice (or my last) to someone who is trying to achieve sobriety.

See earlier reviews:

Stanton Peele’s Diseasing of America

Herbert Fingarette’s Heavy Drinking

D. J. Cornett’s 7 Weeks to Safe Social Drinking

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carmel Clarkson October 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I made one of my first and most passionate complaints about RR. I was told about it by a “recovery worker” who it was found had never read any of the actual material. I ended up pulling up a pdf document when I remembered and got very distressed at comments such as;. ” You don’t get drunk and get stupid; you first get stupid and then you drink.”
I broke down, self harmed, took a small overdose of allergy tablets and called Samaritans. I sent the article to my partner who read the bits I hadn’t got so far to read, such as; ” title: “My family is very supportive.”
Only because they are afraid of you. Their “support” is little different from not aggravating any other unpredictable animal. As a traitor to your family, you deserve no support, and would better earn their respect through unending abstinence. “”
Upon my complaint, an investigation was undertaken and guidelines were put in place.
This theory declares that I am an animal, a traitor, stupid and a dog. How is this helpful? I am a long term victim of emotional abuse, I have crippling low self esteem. This did nothing more than push me into the ground and reaffirm the negative thoughts

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2 kevin mccauley January 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Hello,
RR has helped me it quit.
The part about being powerless is what got me.
It made sense, Not here to argue about the beast or wheter it is or isn’t,
but the concept of powerlessness always gave me an excuse.
Finaly it was clear to me the the choise is mine to use or not to use.
RR did not solve all my “issues” but It di help me to see the choice was mine.
So just saying it worked for me. I have been in 12 step programs in and out.I would agree that There is some thing to be said about turning your self over to God as you understand him. But my experience with modern AA is that term Higher power its too generic, Around here some of the big wigs in the “program” have spiritual guides. And they do not admit to a God as an actual being.
Me thinks the modern world as it attempts to quash the voice of God ,to stamp him from existence has been the downfall of AA and many other “programs begun by Christians.
The YNCA is another example of an organization started by Christains but has been dumbed down to make it more tolerable in the modern materialistic world.
Of course am no expert and can only testify to what my experience has been.

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3 tomd December 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

Hi.

Rational recovery is not rational. Not for me at least. My feelings are not wrong nor are they a ‘beast’. My desire to get stoned on alcohol , pot and everything else was systematic to emotional and mental problems I had . Chiefly an inability to deal with problems and face my fears.

Once we free our minds from drugs, and make concerted effort to change, we shed the need to get wasted altogether , although we can go through periods of vulnerability like anyone else does.

The idea that we are always addicted is nonsense. We are not addicted as long as we do not use the drug . We are not addicted once we change so much that no longer need the drug. Using it wont lead to the same consequences if we are no longer trying to escape.

People who were alcoholics, who go through the monumental effort to recover, probably wont want to drink . They have no use for it. They had a really bad time with the stuff. However, its my own personal experience that we can drink again but certainly not under the same emotional , mental and physical circumstances. Under those conditions we are using the alcohol for something it wasnt designed for.

Rational recovery says you can quit for the rest of your life except there is no way to prove that. We live one day at a time , or at least the government insists we use a 24hr clock right?
I agree the nonsense about getting up in the morning and praying to god I dont use drugs today becomes monotonous and unhelpful. I am sure we can all agree that when we get up we dont plan to get wasted. We dont need God to save us or else we useless wretches are powerless to stop the impending robotic and automatic meltdown.
The problem I have with the 12 step model is not the steps. Those are great. Its this idea that we are powerless at all. That is not true. We all chose of our own free will to get wasted. We were powerful to make those decisions. Unfortunately, the reward for that decision was eventually outweighed by the concequences.

We can stop our lives from becoming unmanageable.

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4 beth July 11, 2014 at 5:15 am

I sobered up with AA over 30 years ago and am now an addictions counselor. I found Trimpey’s AA and Treatment bashing offensive and believe that just because they never worked for him, he figures it would never work for anyone else. I would like to know how many people actually remain clean and sober “for ever” through his methods. He did not discover anything new. Most of what he talks about is cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness therapy. SMART Recovery is a much better organized program than Rational Recovery and it’s free. It also works well with the 12 step program.

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5 Bob Whyte March 12, 2015 at 2:24 pm

“I would like to know how many people actually remain clean and sober “for ever” through his methods”
I have.

You’re offended by his brazen confidence that is nonexistent in the Step programs.

“He did not discover anything new”
Neither did Bill W.

You’re emotions will forever keep you in the dark.

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6 E.M. May 1, 2012 at 2:53 am

I got clean with AA for 2 years. I then found Rational Recovery online and thought ‘wow this seems obvious and easy and I wont need any more meetings or steps!’ I tried it for about 7 months and kept slipping and slipping. It was a nightmare. I gave it a good try but looking back it was a very foolish and dangerous thing to do. The way this guy promotes his program is truly dangerous to peoples lives.
I would say that any program that is asking for money and has so much AA bashing should be treated with skepticism (I think his Rehab Center costs thousands). By all means explore other tools but caution is needed.
I went back to AA and am back to sober life, I am lucky to be alive. I remember when I went back, every meeting I would say 50% of the people had long sober time – 5 years, 10 years, 18 years, 3 years, 30 years – it gave me hope, after reading in his book that the recovery rate of AA is less that 0%. There is no basis for this estimate, it is purely made up to attack AA more.
I just thought I would write about my experience because there isn’t much information about this online. Maybe it will help someone.

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7 O. J. September 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Just googled Rational Recovery. At the top of the Google list is Rational Recovery. I clicked it. “Account has been suspended.”

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8 The Discovering Alcoholic September 8, 2010 at 11:38 pm

They’re back up now- I guess it was just a momentary lapse.

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9 Screedler September 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm

BTW – HB

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10 Paul August 31, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I was interested in Rational Recovery a few years back – at the time I would have considered almost anything. I was very put off by the obsession with AA bashing – I did not find that helpful at all. A lot of the material seemed to be more about what was wrong with AA rather than what is right about Rational Recovery. I am not an AA member but can see that it works for a lot of people.

It is good that there are alternatives to the 12 steps, but RR really needs to focus on what it is good at rather than judging other methods. I also feel that Trimpey has inserted too much of his own personality into this approach. Many of the RR techniques have been around long before this group, but Trimpey either doesn’t seem to be aware of this or he hides the fact. If something works for people I am all for it, but the sniping at other approaches is not the most attractive of human traits.

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