Do Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery work?

Do Practical Recovery and Rational Recovery work?

Rational Recovery

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.

Practical Recovery

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.










How to Help a Chronic Relapser

How to Help a Chronic Relapser

What is a Relapse?

Relapse is resuming the use of a drug or a chemical substance after one or more periods of abstinence; a recurrence of symptoms of a disease (addiction) after a period of improvement; to slip or fall back into a former worse state (active addiction).

What is a Chronic Relapser?

Many addicts have a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse but have never actually attempted to get sober. What makes chronic relapsers distinct is that they have tried and failed at maintaining sobriety many times over.

Profile of the Chronic Relapser

  • Numerous failed attempts at sobriety, or a return to drugs/alcohol after a substantial period of sobriety
  • Unable to maintain sobriety despite having a wealth of knowledge about addiction and recovery
  • Continued substance use despite significant, severe and repeated consequences
  • Chronic relapsers often feel hopeless that they will ever find lasting sobriety
  • Multiple treatment episodes, including psychiatric treatment, detox, residential, outpatient, and halfway houses
  • Significant exposure, attendance and/or participation in 12-Step programs. Chronic relapsers have a history of repeatedly working Steps 1, 2 and 3, but have never completed all 12
  • Treatment-savvy have learned to navigate their way through the treatment industry to meet their own agenda
  • A unique talent to exhaust the financial resources and emotional support of loved ones. Chronic relapsers leave their loved ones depleted of energy and emotional resources
  • As with most addicts, a pervasive cluster of personality characteristics are frequently exaggerated in the chronic relapser; they are very charming, intelligent, manipulative, convincing, deceitful, lovable, talented and passionate; chronic relapsers have mastered the art of survival, in and out of treatment.

How to Help a Chronic Relapser

Below are ways to get involve, support, and encourage successful recovery for a chronic relapser.

Encourage a long-term length of stay. It is a well-established fact that long-term treatment increases the chances of lasting sobriety. It is important to define the term “long-term treatment” as in a length of stay in excess of nine months. It can take a chronic relapser three to six months to wake up out of the fog in which they have been living. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is very significant in chronic relapsers and frequently interferes considerably with their ability to comprehend recovery principles in early sobriety.

Remove outside distractions. Chronic relapsers are masters at distracting themselves and others from seeing the truth about them. It is essential to remove all things they use to change the way they feel and to force them to sit in their own skin.  It is well within the boundaries the treatment center to limit distractions through therapeutic contracts, clear-cut facility rules and guidelines, and limited family contact. As a loved one or family member of a chronic relapser, be aware that you may be asked not to visit early on or often throughout treatment.

Emphasize the mental and spiritual nature of the disease. It is essential that chronic relapsers understand they have a disease of the mind body and spirit, and that the solution through the 12 Steps is spiritual in nature.

Be active in getting your own treatment. In most cases, the family has participated in the progression of the illness in the chronic relapser through intense enabling behaviors. Therapy for the family cannot just be a suggestion; it must be non-negotiable. Get involved with Al-Anon or Nar-Anon and consider counseling for yourself and other family members.

Put an end to enabling. Family leverage is usually the most significant in keeping a chronic relapser in long-term treatment. Chronic relapsers must recognize in no uncertain terms that they will not receive any emotional or financial support from their family if they do not complete long-term treatment or remain sober.

Stay one step ahead. It has been established that chronic relapsers are treatment-savvy, tricky and highly manipulative. When you, as the family, do get to speak and/or visit the chronic relapser, don’t take what they say at face value. Don’t give them an inch.

Emphasize that they work all 12 Steps with a sponsor. It is important that working the 12 Steps is not just a suggestion, but a requirement. These individuals must be held accountable to obtain a sponsor and work all 12 Steps while they are still in treatment.

Be relentless with accountability. Treatment for the chronic relapser should include a constant emphasis on accountability, responsibility and consistency. It is essential that there be rules, limits, boundaries and consequences with chronic relapsers. Family and friends can support but knowing what is expected of their loved one and reinforcing these policies and practices in their encounters with the chronic relapser.



Is one fellowship better than another?

Is one fellowship better than another?Is one fellowship better than another?

When it comes to 12-step fellowships there are tons of them out there, that cater to every type of vice we may have. All in all, the amazing amount of fellowships that are out there for people who are trying to better their lives is a miracle. Unfortunately when people and their egos are involved, there is a competitive nature that also stems from these fellowships. The biggest “rivalry” (from what I can see) is between AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous).

My personal opinion on one fellowship being better than another is this…

Early in sobriety I would have told you yes, that one particular anonymous organization was the best. However, through meditation and spiritual growth that is no longer the case.

Did one specific fellowship work for me? Yes.

Do I have my favorite meetings that I go to that are in certain fellowships? Yes.

Does that make it better than another fellowship? No.

The truth of the matter is these fellowships and these meetings consist of people, people who are all in different spiritual places of their life. Some are new and not doing the right thing, some have multiple years and still aren’t doing the right thing, some have 30 days and have had a spiritual experience, some have years of clean time and are living spiritual lives.

Everyone is always going to be at a different place in their recovery. You can be walking into your first Cocaine’s Anonymous meeting because you’ve abused cocaine or you could be visiting Alcoholics Anonymous and still be a CA member. It’s normal for people to be part of one fellowship and want to give another fellowship a try at some point. We cannot label an entire fellowship as good or bad based on where an individual is in their journey into recovery.

Make sense?

I have met quite a few individuals with amazing programs who have worked the program laid out in Narcotics Anonymous and I have met quite a few individuals who have worked the program laid out in Alcoholics Anonymous. And guess what? I also know people in both who haven’t been able to stay sober, who don’t do the right things, who have had to suffer spiritual consequences and have acted out of selfishness and fear.

This just goes to show how people really have nothing to do with it. We are all the blind leading the blind with the help of something greater than us.

Do you remember hearing this? People have nothing to do with getting sober.

Anyone ever hear that? Especially, anyone sponsoring? It’s true you have nothing to do with it.

The same pretty much goes for the route God comes to someone. It doesn’t matter how a spiritual experience happens as long as it does. It can be through meditation, AA, NA, CA, EDA, GA, going to church, or even taking LSD like Bill W. said. Whatever it is, our egos have to die. We have to get rid of our selfishness through practicing spiritual principles.

So, if you have nothing to do with it and human power has nothing to do with it then why are we pointing fingers at fellowships, and sayings, and people who do the steps a certain way? Who am I to say one person’s journey in a fellowship is not ok or wrong because they were told certain slogans? Honestly, I had to hear some of that in order to learn that it didn’t work, that it didn’t work for ME which in turn led me to what did work. I am not the judge or the jury on fellowships. God has got that. Without the different fellowships I may have never ended up at any meetings to begin with.

So in my eyes, no one fellowship is better than the other. I have two home groups. One in AA and one in CA and I went to NA meetings. I have to say if I had friends who went to NA meetings I would go with them because it has little to do with the meeting itself but the way I am open to receiving the meeting. It is funny how our egos will always find differences in fellowships and ways to build ourselves up even in the midst of working a supposed spiritual program.

All I know is my main purpose is to live a life that is helpful and understanding to everyone and everything. I try to see the point and purpose of everything and everyone in my life. I try to not let what my ego tells me is important dictate how I treat people or what I think. Because my ego will tell me that fellowships matter, clothes matter, money matters, and other material things matter. In reality, I am a spirit which transcends all of that and when I am dead and gone all that stuff my ego told me was important won’t even matter or exist anymore for me. This includes my opinions and thoughts. So all I can do is just try to be understanding and caring to everyone because the way I make people feel, even those in other fellowships is what matters. So I try not to say one fellowship is better than another.