Do Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery work?
Rational Recovery refers to a counseling, guidance, and direct instruction program for addiction. It was created in direct contrast to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other twelve-step programs. The Rational Recovery method is to first make a commitment to planned, permanent abstinence from the substance or behavior, and then learn mental tools to keep that commitment.
The Addictive Voice
The addictive voice, according Rational Recovery, is the most important thing for the recovering addict to be aware of, as well as a determination to remain abstinent based on their rational decision to quit. The addictive voice is the addict’s irrational mind telling them to use drugs. The recovering addict must disregard this voice and connect with their rational decision to stay away from drugs. The idea is, the longer they person is able to disregard their addictive voice, the more connected to the rational decision to abstain they become and begin to see the benefits of staying clean.
The Practical Recovery approach is basically the same as SMART Recovery: a secular and science-based program that uses behavioral and cognitive non-confrontational methods of motivation. Practical Recovery emphasizes individualized therapy. Like AA, there are free meetings in which you can learn recovery methods from evidence-based addiction treatments.
Both of these approaches boast “self-empowerment.” The founders and followers of Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery do not agree with the 12 Step approach that people are powerless. These approaches to recovery are also opposed to the use of religious and spiritual speech such as that used in Alcoholics Anonymous and so they take a science-based methodology, focusing on behavioral and cognitive tools to addressing addiction.
When it comes to historical basis, AA has a lot more to show for itself: AA was founded back in 1935 whereas Rational Recovery is quite new, being founded in 1986. That alone isn’t enough to say whether one approach is more effective than the other. However, there are still AA and other 12 Step fellowship meetings taking place to date and in a number of countries around the world, even Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Thailand. Rational Recovery meetings have since been disbanded by the founders based upon the premise that meetings are a waste of time and ineffective. Some followers of the program have continued to gather in meetings despite the disbandment, although their numbers are dwindling.
So, do Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery work?
It’s hard to say, really. These two approaches have not been around as long as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs and there hasn’t been much research on the efficacy of their approach to addiction. The irony is that there isn’t much evidence for evidence-based addiction approaches such as Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery.
It all comes down to the person who is recovering from an addiction and their willingness to commit to a life without drugs and alcohol. This kind of commitment takes work and dedication to some kind of program that will support them in their goal of long lasting sobriety.