AA vs. RR

Hi. I’ve been reading this BB for some time, but I just registered. I am interested in knowing people’s take on AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) vs. RR (Rational Recovery). I got a DUI and my lawyer told me that while no one can force you to go to AA, I have to abide by my counseling center’s “plan” for me, which includes attending AA, or the State Board will never give me my license back. AA swears up and down they’re not “religious” – only “spiritual.” If someone could explain the difference between the two, I’d be forever grateful. RR, on the other hand, says that the only way to quit drinking is to QUIT. Period. They explain that the “middle brain” is responsible for all things that feel good, and that you have to recognize when the feel good part of your brain is talking to you, you just learn to recognize it, learn that listening to that part of the brain is gonna try to talk you into getting in trouble, etc., etc. There’s alot more to RR, and they are the archrival of AA. Has anyone out there been involved with RR, and did it help? I’ve already sat through the pathetic, insufferable AA meetings, and I swear, I’m “this far” from throttling someone.

Go figure.

AA is not tied with a specific religion but its spiritual element involves you giving control of your life to a “higher power”. A lot of people fail to see how this can be accomplished in a non-religious sense.

I’m a lot less familiar with the RR program, but my understanding is that they do not always go for a program of total abstinence. In some cases, they feel there are people with drinking problems who are able to learn how to occasionally have a drink without going too far. But as I said, I’m not well versed on the program and I could be mistaken.

Girl, first thing you do is tell the folks at the counseling center how you feel about AA. It is not for everybody. I hate the ‘holier than thou’ and phony “hail fellow well met” attitude at AA. There is at least one AGNOSTIC AA in the Dallas area. But even there the “testimonials” all seemed to be people bragging about what GREAT drunks they used to be, they are proud of it. There are as many theories as there are theorists. I don’t see how the state can force you to attend AA if altenatives are available. GOOD LUCK.

I too had to go to AA meetings as a part of Virginia ASAP when I got a DUI. I could tolerate the religious overtones, it was the @!#?@! smoking that drove me nuts. I then found an AA meeting that met in a hospital and was blessedly smoke-free.

IIRC, the list of meetings I was provided also included RR meetings. But none of them was convenient for me.

It appears what I wrote previously is wrong. Rational Recovery does advocate total abstinence.

The difference between religious and spiritual is that AA encourages you to choose your own concept of a higher power. It makes no difference to those who are truly practicing AA principles (and yes people fall short of that) whether you are a member of any organized religion, large or small or whether you believe that organized religion is the root of all evil, as some I’ve known in AA do. The only requirement to join is a desire to stop drinking, and the only evaluation is to stay sober and live to good purpose. The real basis of the spiritual program is that after willpower and knowledge have failed you seek a power greater than yourself to help you solve your problem. If you can stay sober on your own, great, if not the AA program has worked for many. I don’t know anything about RR though, but I would be interested.

Ivick gives a good explanation of the difference between “religious” and “spiritual.” Incidentally, there is an entire chapter in the book Alcoholics Anonymous titled “We Agnostics.” I am adamantly nonreligious and vocal about it in meetings. True AAs have no problem with that.

As a recovering alcoholic who at first rejected but later came to respect AA, I assure you that misconceptions abound, even within the organization. Do not judge the program by one or two meetings. Shop around; they vary. Also, the mood of the meeting can be very different from night to night.

I don’t much care for the idea of anybody being forced to go to a 12-Step meeting. That goes against one of the basic elements of recovery: You have to want it.

I am not an AA fanatic, but it does help me a lot.

Anyone who has any questions or comments about alcoholism, addiction, or recovery is welcome to e-mail me any time. I will respond ASAP.

As a aside, it always got me that my local paper would publish DWI/DUI convictions and the names of the offenders and their sentences–which usually entailed AA attendance. If your name is in the paper, it’s not really anonymous.

Such a practice would not be condoned by AA, but rather would be a civil authorities attempt to use public ridicule to stop people from driving drunk. Probably pathetically ineffective towards true alcoholics. The origins of the anonimity principal are that no one should stand up and claim to speak for, or represent, AA,

Ivick–hey, I agree with you. This happened to two friends of mine and they had to go the meetings. “Why are you here” they would be asked. “Because I have to be, the judge said so” they would answer. Probably not what the alcoholics who were there for help wanted to hear.

Thanks for all the responses! It is my belief that NO ONE quits drinking through AA. They quit because they make a decision to quit. Simple! The meetings I’ve attended are full of people who are grateful to the group, and give no credit to themselves. When I quit drinking, I did it MYSELF. No higher power involved. The term “higher power” is thrown around in such a bizarre fashion at AA. They tell me that a doorknob or a rock can be my higher power. Come on! Higher Power equals “great creator” of some sort. I understand the concepts of organized religion vs. “spiritual” higher being, but it boils down to the same thing…creationism. I also do not believe AA has helped anyone. They have helped themselves. As far as group support goes, I left every meeting I attended really wanting to go get a snootful! They truly depressed me. None of the members came off as being very happy. They traded one addiction (alcolol) for another (the group). Rational Recovery has a web site. I must say, though…they really tear AA a new one at every turn. Problem is, I feel the same way they do in almost all instances.

Ivik, you made a statement that makes a very good point AGAINST AA. You said that true AA-ers don’t stand up and make a statement for AA, but in the alcohol education group I have to attend, ALL of the “teachers” or counselors are ex-addicts and drunks. They ALL attend AA religiously (pardon the pun) and they didn’t offer ANY OTHER means to attain sobriety. To me, that spells AA advocacy. They go on and on about being a “dry drunk”, that is, someone who doesn’t drink, but who has all these personal shortcomings that will not be resolved without AA. They give absolutely no credence to the possibility that people can just quit drinking on their own. They insist it is a disease, yet they offer no therapy or cure. Most of it makes me so angry, and when I bring it up at a meeting, they tell me to pray, just a little bit, and maybe god will come into my life. AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH! It is so OBVIOUSLY religious, and, incidently, holds all the widely held earmarks of a CULT.

Hi, my name is Nickrz, and I’m an alcoholic.

I achieved sobriety through AA more than 5 years ago, and all I can tell you is it worked for me. I’d hit bottom and had nowhere else to turn; AA’s twelve-step program returned me to sanity (heh) and gave me a spiritual way of life and thinking that literally saved my life. Say all you like about the endless drunk-a-thons, the cigarette smoke and the dry drunks cluttering the tables with seemingly endless renditions of “Life’s not fair,” but AA has helped millions of people achieve and maintain sobriety world-wide since 1939.

We can’t all be wrong in saying “AA helped me when professionals, religious entities, law enforcement, the tearful entreaties of my family and friends and the grim reaper staring me in the face were ALL unsuccessful.” AA is the treatment of last resort for those of us who are almost hopelessly adept at every facet of denial.

Like TennHippie, I too rejected AA many years ago. I told myself “Those people have to rely on the idea God will remove their drinking problems. How arrogant and foolish to think God would meddle in earthly affairs. It’s a mental trick they can play only on the feeble-minded.” Well, another 25 years of hard drinking didn’t land me in the land of the tiny-brained folk, but it did have the effect of reducing to one the number of straws I had left to grasp. Only by hard work and adherence to the program itself was I able to overcome this and the countless other hurdles of denial my disease placed in my path.

Cripes, I could (and have) go on for hours with this. I was the guy across from you whining and puling about the injustice of everything under the sun, smoking countless cigarettes and talking about scrapes with death and drugs and the jailer; I was the guy busy letting you save his life by listening to all your (identical to my early)protestations (of responsibility for your actions while drinking) and carefully shooting every one of your rationalizations down just as mine were dashed in flames by others who were truly sober. AA chewed me up and spit me out the other end panting and bereft of any illusions as to my ability to resume drinking “responsibly.” AA and those drunks around the tables gave me the ability to choose whether or not I drink today. I did not have that freedom before.

I know there are many in AA who go overboard in their religious overtones. I personally vehemently object to praying in public, and the practice of linking hands and repeating the Lord’s Prayer at the end of every meeting makes me puke at the irony and hypocrisy inherent in that act. But I just choose not to participate, and rely on the fact it seems to help others with their struggle. AA teaches tolerance as well.
Oops. I’m running on…

I don’t pretend AA is the end-all and be-all of alcoholism treatment.
Go ahead, shop around.
If you think you need help, by God get it wherever you can.
We’ll always be here if and when you may need us.

Well Girlface, I don’t know what to tell you, if all of the teachers and counselers are clean and sober through AA/NA it sounds like a statement for AA rather than against it. The tradition on anonymity reads like this: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion, we need always maintain anonymity at the level of press radio and films. That’s fairly specific and is not supposed to equal zero advocacy. I entered this thread to answer a specific question about spirtuality not suggest that there was no alternative to AA. If you can stay sober by yourself, my hats off to you, many can not. I disagree with your statement that organized religion and spirituality boil down to the same thing. In organized religion you have individuals charged with guiding others, in sprituality no one stands between you and your experience of God, no one instucts or interpets for you. To me this is a HUGE distinction. I, for example, have no problem reconciling evolutionary science with the existence of a higher order of organization than human beings. I also fail to see how an organization which has Christians, Jews, Moslems, Wiccans, Buddhists, Taoists, Agnostics,and miscellaneous Pagans, which has no charismatic leader, which collects no dues, and which provides no punishment for leaving can honestly be counted a cult,
AKA: he who must get around to changing his username to an upper case L.