Rational Recovery

Can anyone with recent experience tell me about Rational Recovery?

Part of my job involves referring people to substance abuse treatment and monitoring their compliance. I had a client today ask about RR as an alternative to Narcotics Anonymous.

Now, I’d heard of RR as an alternative to AA and similar groups for people who have trouble with AA’s requirement of belief in a higher power. As an atheist, I was quite happy to look into the availability of RR groups in our area and to advocate (if necessary) for his being allowed to attend RR instead of AA or NA. But when I looked at their website, it wasn’t what I expected. They have apparently stopped using support groups and meetings altogether. Their website seems to devote as much space to criticizing AA-style groups and other treatment methods as it does to talking about addictions. And although much of what they say seems like good, cognitive-based stuff, it is full of words that set off huge alarms in my mind, like “effortlessly” and “guaranteed.” A lot of it seems geared to pressure you into accepting their model, and then when it doesn’t work instantly, getting you to spend large amounts of money on subscriptions and four-day conferences in California.

In other words, it screams “scam.” In fact, it almost screams “cult.”

Is this accurate? Do they really help people get over their addictions? And what happened to the meetings?–They can’t really think people will do better without any support at all!

Is there a group that does what I had thought RR did–provide a rationalist, non-theistic equivalent to the 12 Steps? Or have I fallen victim to a Narconon-type phishing scam, and the real RR has a slightly different name?

I’ll be curious to see the replies you get, because I had a similar experience when I tried to find a RR group for a client recently.

OK, I will just go ahead and light the moist wick for the bomb that lands at AA’s feet.

Much of AA’s success comes from the fact that meetings are EVERWHERE usually several times a day even in small places. The Boston area has about 3000 AA meetings a week the last time I looked. They don’t want your money except for a $1 a meeting for the refreshments but no one cares if you are too broke to do that even.

I always believed that was AA’s main strength. Anyone in trouble could find people that knows their trouble at all times even in an unfamiliar place and find people willing to listen or help in other ways without prior knowledge or inappropriate judgment.

I am not a regular member myself but that is what I always take away from it. There are an awful lot of drug addicts but not alcoholics that attend AA meetings just because there are so many more AA meetings than NA meetings. I think this point would stand X ten for rational recovery and a support group isn’t a support group if you can’t find it when you need it.

I’ll be glad to help in any way I can having tried for five years to quit drinking before finally succeeding (almost two years now). I went to SMART Recovery (smartrecovery.org) which is based on RR, and AA, and SR was far more helpful, tho’ when I finally quit there were only AA meetings near where I was. RR is trademarked or protected however, and it is a money making business, HOWEVER, anyone (as I understand it) can use the basic program, techniques, etc. but they have to provide their own material and can’t use the RR name. In short, there are programs based on RR out there but you have to look for them. I would recommend it as AA exists as much to propogate itself as to help others. I haven’t gone to an AA meeting- or any other- since last Dec. and have been doing fine. My opinion is everybody should seek this level of adjustment, and that’s what RR based programs hope to achieve.

IIRC, the “higher power” that is referred to in AA can be the group itself. A believe in God is not a requirement…

IIRC there are AA, NA, and other 12 step programs that cater to agnostics and atheists.

The AA meetings around here don’t talk much about God or encourage other people to. My higher power has always been my children which is a very common one although one single rebel had his higher power as his motorcycle which he loved more than anything and was terrified to get drunk and bend it (again). Those are all fine. I don’t go to too many AA meetings these days because I get bored but I have never understand many of the criticisms. They demand nothing and offer extreme resources in the form of individuals giving back if you want them all for free. In terms of any organization on earth, there is about as little downside as any.

Ditto that. If they tried to scam you out of money, property, or some other such thing, I could understand a criticism.

But for an organization that does nothing but volunteer to help, I can’t understand why some people want to criticise, just because of the “higher power” angle.

Surely, it’s detractors don’t believe that THEY are the end all, be all God of the universe (of course not, they are athiests and agnostics), so there must be SOME power greater than you, even if it’s a hurricane, or TWO people, or whatever.

And even in AA groups where the predominant view is Christianity, they are still careful to limit their comments during meetings to accomodate those who feel otherwise…

Several years ago, Smart Recovery was formed due to problems in RR. One of the main ones being the preponderence of time spent AA-bashing instead of concentrating on their own recovery program. It is my understanding that the majority of members went with Smart Recovery. Both are based on the teachings of Albert Ellis (Rational Emotive Therapy). I have no problem referring people to SM. The only issue is availability of meetings in your area. I do not recommend RR - because of the very things that make you uneasy.

I can’t say I have “experience” of RR, because that’s not really the way it works. However, I have used their techniques to quit. As a disclaimer, I should say that I did spend about US$12 on their book, “Rational Recovery”. Since that $12 would otherwise have been spent on booze, I don’t feel it was too much of a problem.

The point about the whole “guaranteed” thing is not to say that they present a miracle cure. No, the point is much simpler than that - if you don’t drink, you are guaranteed not to drink. So don’t freakin’ drink! While AA messes around with asking people to declare themselves powerless, RR asks you to decide the exact opposite - you are the only one who can stop yourself drinking/taking drugs, and the sooner you realise that the faster the recovery process will be.

Actually, the bones of their program (such as it is) are available free on the website, and the book costs less than a night in the pub.

Support - their view is not that you don’t need support, it’s just that they don’t feel that hanging around with other alcoholics/drug addicts is a good thing in and of itself. Seek support in friends, family, your church and god, whatever. Spend time with people and make friends based on common interests, not common problems. In short, never let the addiction define you.

And I did not get paid to write this :smiley:

I have no experience with any of them, so this isn’t an endorsement or anything like that, but there’s also Secular Organizations for Sobriety. According to their web page at least they disavow any sort of antagonistic relationship with AA or other 12-step programs.

Rational Recovery has moved away from a meeting-based program into a self-administered one, which is why you can’t find meetings.

I have heard a lot of good things about SMART Recovery. I belong to a mailing list of ex-AA members, and several of the more active people belong to that organization, including some who live in the sticks and who are abstinent. There are also some good resources online where people can find information and support.

In terms of the notion that AA is “spiritual, not religious” and that you don’t need to believe in a god to belong, there have been several cases wherein the court said that mandatory participation in AA is, in fact, a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. here is the first case, which involved mandatory 12-step meetings as a condition to receive family visits, and here is the second case, which involved mandatory AA meetings as a condition of probation after a DUI conviction. There are more, of course, but I don’t have time to look them all up right now. I also found this Columbia Law Review article that makes a pretty strong case that mandatory AA participation is a violation of the establishment clause.