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What does RR and AVRT say about drinking again

Old 03-06-2015, 04:49 AM
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Better when never is never
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What does RR and AVRT say about drinking again

No, not moderating, straightforward drinking despite a desire to live sober.

I drank again and am now regrouping. One of the things I like about RR and AVRT are that they are so cut and dried. Make a decision and be done with it; and any thought entertaining future drinking or creating doubt about success is your AV and should be ignored.

It seems like that leaves very little room to do anything different or guidance as to what to do should a person fail to stay sober.

So, what should a person do if they weren't successful in carrying out their Big Plan? What needs to be done now to make it effective? Or is thinking something else needs to be done simply my AV trying to create doubt?

Sorry, but I am confused as to next steps.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:57 AM
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Since I am not 'trained up' on either of these programs, I do not know what the recommendation is going forward.
One must ask himself, why did I decide to drink again. Yes? When you can answer that question then it is up to you to figure out how to deal with it. Was is a conscious decision?

Do I wish to stay sober? And if you are in doubt that going forward you are not sure, then I would assume that it is your AV thinking for you.
Just brush yourself off. Realize what and why it happened. And if you want to remain sober, make the vow to yourself. My guess is that either you didn't mean it the first time or you let the AV overtake you. Figure out which it was and go from there.

Glad you posted. It helps me to be on the look out for my own weakness.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:08 AM
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hello jazzfish,
I saw this post on the New Posts section. Just for me, I did the RR Crash Course online, Read the Rational Recovery Book, read the Art of AVRT, and did the Big Plan...quite a number of times. I was lambasted on some posts for just not getting it...or just not being serious about the 'Simple' program, and being weak and letting my AV control me. I really worked the program, numerous times...but for ME...my AUTOMATIC behavior just sidestepped any Rational Thoughts...and I could start back on the Rational Thoughts about the time my Automatic Behavior had followed the engrained routine of DRINKING.

RR and AVRT work for a lot of people, and for people like me that just couldn't get it...well I guess I was just letting my AV be in control..just another weak-willed REAL Alcoholic?

I am now over a year completely SOBER, and I maintain that condition by working a program that really works for me, and it allows ME to keep elevated above the Automatic Behavior of the Alcoholic Condition that I have accepted I have.

RDBplus3...Happy, Sober, and FREE
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:16 AM
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Hey Jazzfish, so glad you are hitting this head on. I will let others who are more well versed on RR/AVRT answer but I am wondering if you had a pre-contemplative stage where you were entertaining thoughts of drinking for a period before?

In any event I think it is great that you are ratting out you AV!
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:21 AM
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Jazzfish,
I read something recently that said success comes to the person who will do whatever it takes to achieve sobriety, NOT to the person who names a method and will do "fill in the blank". In other words, if RR doesn't work, then try something else, and keep at it until you achieve success.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:22 AM
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Thanks for the feedback!

What I am thinking now is that things were going really well and I really, really enjoyed the "together" type of life. So...why not reward a good presentation with a drink, and isn't an occasional drink part of a successful, well-managed life? I was repulsed at the though of going back to a drunk, out of control life. Drinking just seemed like it belonged.

There was some contemplation prior to picking up, and I will always believe it was a conscious decision.
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jazzfish View Post
Thanks for the feedback!

What I am thinking now is that things were going really well and I really, really enjoyed the "together" type of life. So...why not reward a good presentation with a drink, and isn't an occasional drink part of a successful, well-managed life? I was repulsed at the though of going back to a drunk, out of control life. Drinking just seemed like it belonged.

There was some contemplation prior to picking up, and I will always believe it was a conscious decision.
If that's the case, then your plan in place for the future use of alcohol was clearly NOT the Big Plan. Nevertheless, you are perfectly capable of deciding "I will never drink again." at any time; at any time you are not drinking, that is.
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by jazzfish View Post
So...why not reward a good presentation with a drink, and isn't an occasional drink part of a successful, well-managed life? I was repulsed at the though of going back to a drunk, out of control life. Drinking just seemed like it belonged.

There was some contemplation prior to picking up, and I will always believe it was a conscious decision.
Hey jazz, thanks for posting about this. I've been wondering how I'll handle the desire for an occasional drink too. My next biggest hurdle in this quit process will be the next time I have to give a presentation -- two weeks from now. I can hear the AV chattering already, as it tries to rationalize a decision to drink again... just for that night. (Yeah, right.) (I used alcohol to ease performance anxiety.) I guess the key, for me, at this point, is to tally up all the negatives of picking up that first glass of wine. What's the phrase people use here? Play the film until it ends? It never ends well for me, even if I get through the presentation (relatively) unscathed. I just can't let that first glass be an option. I have to remember that it hurts more than helps. That's one tactic... Hope this helps!
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:11 AM
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My wife wanted me to purchase the "Relapse Prevention" workbook when I was in rehab. She wanted to buy a lot of recovery stuff for me. I read through one.

It's probably not a bad idea to have something like that around to refer to once in a while or monthly. Kind of a reset when your thinking starts to drift.

I think it is a good idea every once in a while to review our thinking and motivation. In the very beginning our resolve is quite strong - fresh. After some time it becomes just another day and complacency sets in. For me, reading posts from the newcomers forum is what keeps it fresh for me. I am constantly reminded of what it's like, where I was and where I will end up if I let the AV overtake me. I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought it would be nice to have a drink now and again. But every time I think this I remind myself that I can't. Or, shouldn't for my own good. I always 'can'. But that would be same as going over niagra falls in a rubber raft. I can always do that too. But would I survive it.
And besides, I don't drink alcohol.
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:15 AM
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I found training the beastmaster to be immensely helpful. Things that increased my awareness of my thought processes and improved my effectiveness also increase the disparity between myself and my AV. This, in turn, has made it easier for me to identify and subdue my maladaptive appetite for alcohol.

Finding those things that work for me has been challenging, but well worth the effort.
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:22 AM
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Hi jazzfish.

RR was the first "method" I studied in more depth before I got sober, and what I really liked in it was the Big Plan thing. I think I was really done at the time when I quit and never felt there was anything attractive in a drinking life, never felt sorry beyond fleeting moments that I would live my life without alcohol forever. It was really like breaking up with a bad love affair and never wanting to see them again. What I did have though, and very intensely and for a long time were the physical cravings for alcohol. I say "physical" because it was quite clear to me how those desires were born in my head as the remnants of my past abuse, triggered by many different things, but even when I was craving intensely, I had that determination and closure type feeling as well that I don't want to go back to it no matter what and that it would only bring destructive things to my life and nothing good. But I don't think I could have gone through many of those urges with simply ignoring and "starving" them, sitting with them, at least in the first few months. There was no way to simply isolate those urges because they were interconnected with my being in profound ways. What worked best was responding to them in a similarly physical way: eating food, exercise, etc.

But I think this is probably not what you are asking, but a more holistic question. Well, based on what I have seen in the recovery communities with people who have successfully maintained sobriety in the longer run is that not many succeeded purely just relying on a Big Plan, AVRT, and nothing else special. It's usually combined with other recovery efforts, the variety that is discussed here on SR all the time about changing many things in our lives, caring for ourselves in new ways, and doing these consistently as a new set of habits. It seems like an attractive idea that we make a plan not to drink, then move on and live our life happily... it's just that unfortunately it's not that simple, not in the majority of cases at least. If that would have worked for me, I would now be probably at least 5 years sober, and I only have ~13 months during which I did a lot of those things recommended. Not any official program and I do it in my own ways, but lots of things. Whenever I try to take a break and ignore my recovery, I start to feel slipping (mentally) usually soon... not necessarily with conscious thoughts of drinking but slipping into unhealthy thought patterns and reactions.

It's definitely our conscious decision to pick up a drink, but typically there are lots of unconscious processes preceding it, that are not easily or not always responsive to pure willpower and good decisions. If they were, there would not be addiction. So perhaps think about what else you could use to supplement your RR/AVRT regime?
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by GerandTwine View Post
If that's the case, then your plan in place for the future use of alcohol was clearly NOT the Big Plan.
Thanks, and this hits upon a subtlety I have been wondering about. What is the difference between saying the words of The Big Plan while feeling completely convinced you mean them, but it isn't the Big Plan, and saying the words and making the commitment and it really is the Big Plan? Especially know that decisions can always be changed including the part about never changing my mind. How do you tell the difference? Or more importantly, how do you ensure you are doing the real one?
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by haennie View Post
What I did have though, and very intensely and for a long time were the physical cravings for alcohol. I say "physical" because it was quite clear to me how those desires were born in my head as the remnants of my past abuse, triggered my many different things...
I've accepted that there is going to be an uncomfortable period of adjustment. I've learned that our brain's reward/pleasure center starts firing in anticipation of a drink...which taps into outdated memories that drinking used to work for us. Additionally, the frontal cortex has had its functioning impaired which relates to discernment, reversal learning, decision making and impulse control. Put the two together and we have a real fight on our hand.

Recognizing this, I have joined the Class of March group and also made up morning and evening routines to keep myself in the right frame of mind, remind myself of what and why I am staying sober, and make sure my actions are in line with my life goals.
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Old 03-06-2015, 06:59 AM
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I too would like to hear from others with more experience. I have no desire to drink but have had 8 yrs. in another program before and the puny feeling is there and hard to snap out of. Nowhere does it say in RR that this should only be done once (big plan) but it is inferred just as drinking again after doing the steps is somehow "missing something". "I can never drink again no matter what" is my motto. Sounds like you had a "what" is all. Log it and move foreward. It will sting for a bit but so do stubbed toes (we tend to avoid THAT unseen trip and are more situationally aware AFTER the fact).
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Old 03-06-2015, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jazzfish View Post
What I am thinking now is that things were going really well and I really, really enjoyed the "together" type of life. So...why not reward a good presentation with a drink, and isn't an occasional drink part of a successful, well-managed life?
That sounds like old Mr. Reptile/Lizard/AV/A/Stinkin' Thinkin', name it what you wish. I've heard that voice myself, the "reward" trigger followed by rationalization. In fact the last noticeable triggered feeling I had was a year ago, when I had just aced a job change negotiation and was feeling very proud of myself. My antenna pick up those things pretty easily, and my response was to take notice and then go poke my head into a medical outpatient group meeting I had not been to for most of a year, to talk about how good life had been going without drinking. If that hadn't been an option, I would have gone to a sober chat room I frequent to do the same. If that had not been an option, I might have gone shopping at the mall, or gone on a housecleaning mission, just to distract.

Point being, my long-standing plan for triggered feelings is, do something else, quickly, and don't even engage in a debate with the reptile. Works for me.

Sounds like your "lapse" didn't go far, so you might just get back on the horse and do what you've been doing, but learn from the experience so it's less likely to happen next time.
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:01 AM
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I think it is more helpful for us to replace 'I can't drink anymore' with 'I have chosen to never drink anymore. No take-backs. Boo Yah.'

My BP is tightly tangled with my AV recognition radar. I get those thoughts too, the ones that say 'Why not reward a good presentation with a drink?', and 'Isn't an occasional drink part of a successful, well-managed life?'. My answers are 'Because I don't drink', and 'No, it's not. I don't drink'. For me, there is no possible answer to those questions that would appease my AV. The only way to appease it is to drink. So rather than trying to find some acceptable answer to the question, I disengage and separate from it, then accept that it will forever remain un-appeased.

Here is a flow chart of sorts.
1) A thought about drinking alcohol. Or a thought of being unable to remain sober for some ridiculous reason.
2) AHAAA!!!11!!! AV, you jerk!!! Not ME, not what I want, not what I need.
3) Big Plan
4) Done
5) What was I doing before I was interrupted? Right! I was living. Onward!
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:03 AM
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jazzfish,
it's my limited understanding that RR says if you make a BP and drink again, clearly you hadn't really made a real BP.
circular reasoning.

if you now make a real BP, you'll only know if it was "real" if you don't drink again.

did you think/believe you made a real BP when you decided last time to never drink again and never change your mind/

this all might sound sarcastic, but isn't meant that way.

there's so much desperation and pain in repeated attempts to quit and not managing that. anything with a promise or guarantee attached to it, whether it is "it works if you work it" or "i will NEVER..." ....

anyway, what matters most, i think, is what YOU say about drinking again.
because what YOU say will determine the course you choose from here.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:23 AM
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Yesterday I was thinking about some upcoming sporting events I always drank for. (The Triple Crown horse races). My AV thought maybe I should go find a hotel room for those three days. Just those three days. And have those three days out of the year be my only drinking days. I would continue to tell people I don't drink but me and my AV would have our naughty little secret. Wink wink. WHAT THE HELL??? I continued to have urges yesterday out of the blue. So I engaged in other indulgences. I closed the curtains, got out a bag of peanuts and on a beautiful sunny day, I went underground with Netflix. For hours. For what it's worth, Jazzfish, your honest post today has saved me from letting the dog get on the sofa. Community connection really does help.
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by WhatBeast View Post
For what it's worth, Jazzfish, your honest post today has saved me from letting the dog get on the sofa. Community connection really does help.
It's funny, because I thought about just letting slide and pretending everything was fine. But then I thought, what's the point of even engaging here if I won't seek support and be honest? Glad you made it through the day.
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Old 03-06-2015, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jazzfish View Post
Thanks, and this hits upon a subtlety I have been wondering about. What is the difference between saying the words of The Big Plan while feeling completely convinced you mean them, but it isn't the Big Plan, and saying the words and making the commitment and it really is the Big Plan? Especially know that decisions can always be changed including the part about never changing my mind. How do you tell the difference? Or more importantly, how do you ensure you are doing the real one?
Originally Posted by fini View Post
it's my limited understanding that RR says if you make a BP and drink again, clearly you hadn't really made a real BP.
circular reasoning.
Yes this seems to be a tautology, an example of the "no true Scotsman" logic. It would seem to go like this.

1)Make a big plan to never drink again.
2)If you drink again then you did not in fact 'really' make a big plan (or at least not a proper big plan).

BTW, I have applied this same criticism to my own preferred method of achieving sobriety. It goes like this.

1)Take these specific steps to achieve sobriety
2)If you drink again you did not do the steps (or you did not do them adequately).

In both cases the program or method is always faultless with regard to the outcome.

jazzfish, My advice (regardless of procedure/method/program) would be to identify what went wrong... exactly what went wrong. If you feel that fixing this will produce a good result, then do it. If you cannot identify what went wrong, or if the identification of that problem does not produce ideas of how to move forward with that same procedure/method/program, then move on to another approach.
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