Saturday, April 17, 2010

AA vs. RR

Alcoholics Anonymous is a twelve step self help group that is ran by other recovering alcoholics. The AA groups are disciplined by the twelve traditions, which are basic ground rules for all AA groups. These are suggested principles to insure the survival and growth of the fellowship. AA is a fellowship of individuals who share similar experience, strength, and hope with each other. AA is centered on the 12 steps which are the core to the AA program of personal recovery from alcoholism. The Twelve Steps represent an approach to living that is totally new for most alcoholics; many AA members feel that the Steps are a practical necessity if they are to maintain their sobriety (44 Questions). AA's program is much broader than just changing drinking behavior. Its goal is to effect enough change in the alcoholic's thinking to bring about recovery from alcoholism, while abstaining from alcohol, one day at a time. A spiritual awakening is achieved from following the Twelve Steps, and sobriety is maintained by regular AA meeting attendance or contact with AA members. Members are encouraged to find an experienced fellow alcoholic called a sponsor to help them understand and follow the AA program. A sponsor usually has the experience of all twelve of the steps, is the same gender as the sponsored person, and refrains from imposing personal views on the sponsored person.
Rational Recovery was founded by Lois and Jack Tringy in 1985. The Rational Recovery program is based on the idea that the addict both desires and is capable of permanent, planned abstinence. Rational Recovery program recognizes that the addict also wants to continue using. This is because of his belief in the power of the substance to quell his anxiety; an anxiety which is itself partially substance-induced, as well as greatly enhanced, by the substance. This ambivalence is the Rational Recovery definition of addiction. The primary force driving an addicts predicament is called the "addictive voice", which can physiologically be understood as being related to the parts of the human brain that control our core survival functions such as hunger, sex, and bowel control. As a result, when the desires of this "voice" are not satiated, the addict experiences anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, and anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure). Basically, the RR method is to first make a commitment to planned, permanent abstinence from the undesirable substance or behavior, and then equip oneself with the mental tools to stick to that commitment. Most important to recovering addicts is the recognition of this addictive voice, and determination to remain abstinent by constantly reminding themselves of the rational basis of their decision to quit. As time progresses, the recovering addict begins to see the benefits of separating themselves and their rational minds from a bodily impulse that has no regard for responsibility, success, delayed gratification, or moral obligation. It is also an AVRT-Based Recovery, which believes that addicts and alcoholics can quit now and forever. Rational Recovery endorses zero tolerance ultimatums, which means that a family gives the ultimatum of either quit now or then followed immediately by plan b if the addicted individual does not quit. Rational Recovery believes in individual responsibility and relapse is “immoral conduct”.
While RR and AA promote abstinence, the programs use very different strategies. RR repeatedly makes it clear that there is no better time to make a plan to abstain from drinking/using now, and AA’s idea of “one day at a time is contradictory to never using again. RR pretty much says that if you are never going to use again then it is pointless to keep track of time, where AA celebrates the time sober. RR does not regard alcoholism as a disease, but as a voluntary behavior, where AA believes that alcoholism is a disease never to be cured. RR discourages the notion of the forever “recovering” label. There are no RR recovery groups. In RR there is great emphasis placed on self-efficacy, yet there are no discrete steps and no consideration of religious matters like there is in AA. The only requirement for AA is that the individual have a desire to quit drinking, where as in Rational Recovery the individual is giving the ultimatum to stop drinking immediately or no help. AA believes that a relapse is a common occurrence in the first few weeks or months of sobriety or after the alcoholic has been “dry” a number of years. Where as Rational Recovery has a no tolerance outlook on relapse. If the individual continues to drink or slips up there are consequences other than just making the individual leave until they are sober, which is how AA feels about a relapse. AA and RR are similar in that they both are available to help individuals who want to stop using or drinking.


44 Questions. AA Grapevine, Inc. (1952).

(2010). Retrieved on Febuary 20, 2010, from