April 20, 2008May 18 2008Meeting Report

May 2, 2008

Jack and Lois Trimpey

Rational Recovery

Jack and Lois Trimpey

This well-received presentation was one of the best we've seen in a long time.

If Jack Trimpey were still in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) he would have started HAGSA’s May 2 presentation by informing us he was an alcoholic. Instead, the founder of Rational Recovery (RR) described himself as a former drunk. He described RR as based on an recovery philosophy that provides an alternative to AA’s well-known twelve-step program. He also made it clear that he considers RR to be vastly superior.

For Humanists, one of the primary differences is the lack of a requirement to surrender to a deity, but there are several ways in which RR and AA differ. In AA, for instance, one is told they will always be an alcoholic and that relapses are expected. In RR one is told they should become a former alcoholic and that whether they relapse or not is up to them.

As a licensed social worker, Jack decided cognitive therapy where subjects are told to feel good about themselves and become vitally absorbed with things outside themselves as a way to cause addiction to go away might be the solution for others, even though he did not believe it was the solution for himself.

While Jack described a host of ways in which RR differs from AA, they all seem to revolve around the assumption within AA that the addict is weak and relatively powerless—and hence not responsible for his or her own actions. This contrasts with RR, where personal strength and responsibility are the norm. Probably the largest other difference would be that AA is a group effort, where the person trying to recover is surrounded by others with the same problem, whereas RR removes the subject from this temptation.

While Jack delivered the bulk of the presentation, Lois was called upon several times to add to or clarify Jack’s account. The question and answer period was quite lively and, in fact, started while Jack was still presenting.

Report prepared by Brian Jones, Recorder


The original announcement for this meeting, below, provides additional interesting information.

On the acknowledgements page of The Small Book, originally self-published (Lotus Press) in 1989, Jack Trimpey writes:

Many thanks to Mildred McCallister, director of the Humanist Association of Greater Sacramento (and her many friends) who have provided vital support for RR this year. I also thank the administrators of the American Humanist Association for their attention to the vast unmet need that exists in addiction care. . . .

A later edition of The Small Book was published by Dell Books

The successor to The Small Book was Rational Recovery: The New Cure for Substance Addiction, published this time by Simon and Schuster’s Pocket Books division. Jack and Lois Trimpey have published other books since then, including one for food addicts.

It’s no surprise, then, that Jack and Lois Trimpey have been active for years, working with alcoholics and persons with other types of addictive behavior. Their program is a rational alternative to the traditional twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, which rely on an undefined “higher power” as an essential part of their treatment. Often, persons convicted of driving under the influence are coerced into such treatment programs, even though they do not have a measurable success record. Jack and Lois Trimpey make it possible for such people to take a different approach to recovery.


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