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To Family, Friends, and Associates of Addicted People

Rational Recovery is strongly supportive of family and friends, and can restore some peace of mind even if the one you care about does not change.

  • Drinking alcohol and using drugs are voluntary behaviors for the purpose of gaining physical pleasure from the substance. Anyone can quit an addiction, immediately, and for good. Self-recovery through planned, permanent abstinence is commonplace, and is clearly described in AVRT®.
  • Regardless of what you do, the one you care about may not change. Some heavy drinkers and drug users are not really interested in quitting. If this is so, then that's that. However, substance abuse usually brings on bad consequences that create motivation to quit. If the one you care about wants to quit drinking or using, even just some of the time, then the stage is set for AVRT-based recovery. Remember, the more serious the addiction is, the easier recovery often is.
  • One of the bad consequences of chemical dependence is that it ruins relationships with persons like yourself. Many addicted people finally take action when significant others, such as yourself, will not tolerate any further drinking or using. Once addiction is recognized or acknowledged, recovery is not far off.
  • Your original perceptions of your loved one's changed behavior are probably correct, that he/she is behaving irresponsibly, is fully in control of the decision to drink or use, and personally responsible for all of the consequences.
  • Addiction is a state of chemically-enhanced stupidity which can be overcome by abstinence. Your loved one does not suffer from a disease that causes him or her to drink or use drugs, or which prevents him or her from immediately quitting altogether.
  • You carry no burden of change. You do not have a parallel disease called "codependency." No one does. You may be so dependent on that person for love or approval or something else, so dependent that your own well-being is overshadowed. But that is not a disease.
  • You are not an enabler, even if you pour the drinks for your loved one. You cannot "enable" what someone is going to do anyhow.
  • If the one you care about takes advantage of your better side, your trust and generosity, you might experiment with the expression, "sucker," to describe your role.
  • If you understand that you are being taken advantage of so your loved one can experience the pleasure of drinking alcohol or using drugs, your options may become more obvious and clear. You might, for example, treat your loved one's addictive behavior for what it is, the ultimate self-indulgence, and give an ultimatum with which you would follow through. You may be less cooperative with your loved one's manipulations, and more independent overall.Or, you may stop searching for meaning where there is none, and accept the status quo.
  • If your loved one refuses to get help, it may be because he/she is not suited for recovery group participation, and would do much better to quit independently.
  • If he/she has gotten some help, and continues to drink or use drugs, this does not mean that you are failing in any way or enabling. Nor does it mean that the addiction is more "severe." It merely means that some desire to quit probably exists, but the knowledge of how to abstain does not.
  • In either case, tell your loved one that you have learned about Rational Recovery, which is entirely different from 12-step or psychological approaches to recovery. Tell him/her that RR specializes in helping people who have tried recovery groups and addiction treatment, but have been unsuccessful in remaining sober.
  • If the one you care about undertakes AVRT studies, you may expect some erratic ways for a time. Irritability, remoteness, and restlessness are common, but this is a natural reaction to giving up something that was very important. It doesn't mean drinking or using will resume. Remember that quitting addictions does not make people into ideal personalities.
  • Do not be intimidated with suggestions that if you do so-and-so, that you will "trigger a relapse." You are incapable of doing this.
  • Is there life after addiction? You bet. Go to our Love Letters page, and meet some people who have recovered independently from serious addictions using AVRT.
  • Rational Recovery recommends that family members avoid involvement with the recovery group movement, i.e., Al-Anon. Our experience, based on the direct feedback from thousands of families, is that Al-Anon is anti-family and attempts to replace family bonds with attachments to the recovery group. They insist upon meeting attendance as the only acceptable decision of an addicted family member, completely discounting the possibility of self-recovery through planned abstinence. If you attend recovery group meetings for friends and relatives of addicted people, expect standard social behavior from those present. Do not accept or use self-labels, do not accept predictions that you will be worse off by not returning to the group, and resist suggestions that you must change your way of looking at your problems. Do not tell bad stories about your family life, as Al-Anon groups are in no way confidential. If they are understanding and tolerant, they will accept you as you are and be little concerned if you do not accept their viewpoint. If their beliefs conflict with yours, it is no reflection on you, and you may confidently leave the meeting.
  • There are some excellent Rational Recovery learning materials that may help your friend or family member lay a foundation for AVRT-based recovery. One is "Greater Expectations," which examines the options available to addicted people, and introduces some elements of AVRT. The label explains that the video is a gift from someone who cares, and, if the recipient is insulted or annoyed, suggests the recipient swallow those bad feelings and view the video in private. The other is AVRT: Live, which provides in-depth instruction on AVRT-based recovery, start to finish. Jack Trimpey narrates these videos, "in your face," and guides the viewer along the decision-making toward complete recovery. The videos are structured around the book, Rational Recovery: The New Cure for Substance Addiction (Pocket Books, 1996), adding crucial audio-visual impact for effective learning.
  • Some people learn best with individual instruction in AVRT. For information on AVRT: The Course, call the RR office.


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