The Journal of Rational Recovery, Volume 8, Issue I
(used with permission; all rights reserved)
Netted on the Internet

How Long Is Yours?
(Your Big Plan, Dummy!)
by Cliff Walker

The Internet is a vast frontier
claimed in 1995 as an American colony.

Date: Mon. Sep 25, 1995 4:41 PM EDT
From: Clifwalker
Subj: How long is yours?

My Big Plan is forever. At 5:30 PM today, mine will have lasted seven years and will have wavered only two or three times at most. I never gave in and I don't plan on it. I have changed and it was I who did the changing -- because I wanted to.

In my jail cell, I explained the craving as a Pavlovian conditioned reflex and was able to dissociate my Self from the desire. I was even able to keep from going crazy over it because I had demystified addiction and recovery right there. This is very similar to the way we do it in Rational Recovery.

Although the Big Plan is hard at first, it is very helpful to get used to the word "never" from the start. That most lethal of reservations, "One day at a time" -- which actually means "Try me tomorrow" -- likewise takes some getting used to. So why not expend your efforts getting used to the Big Plan and set your sights high?

Sure, nobody can predict the future. I may just get struck by a bolt of lightning and suddenly acquire an unexplainable, uncontrollable, absolute- panic craving to drink. But I doubt it. Life is probably going to continue just as it has since Day One and I will probably feel the same tomorrow as I do today. And I don't have to feel it in order to say it and believe it and do it. So I can, with confidence, say that mine is forever. I've been doing it long enough now that if anybody who wants to squawk about how "nobody can predict the future" already has more than plenty to squawk about with me.

Thanks for the wonderful program, Jack. Our groups are growing by leaps and bounds, even though I am still doing all the work by myself. I am still very ill and sometimes only have two or three hours to give in a particular day. Then that day is a Rational Recovery meeting, it always brightens me to watch people's eyes light up as I explain Rational Recovery. I go through the decision to quit, the Big Plan, Addictive Voice Recognition Technique and the Beast, Unconditional Self Acceptance and, once you have a handle on your sobriety, and (if we have time), finding a self-help or similar method to deal with issues such as anger management, physical and mental health issues, socio-economic problems, coping skills, life skills, and job skills. I always point people elsewhere for these things, because RR is about getting and staying clean and sober.

And because there are no more Professional Advisors to let us use their office phone as the local contact number, we are paying for our own phone. But this also means that we control what is said from a lay level. It is a Satellite Line that forwards RR's calls from the phone company to my home phone with what they call a "Distinctive Ring." The whole package costs a little over $50 including the Voice Messaging and the ad.

Date: Mon. Sep 25, 1995 4:43 PM EDT
From: Clifwalker
Subj: I think we're making progress (2)

This fellow has come a long, long way in three months. He is the one who went ballistic when I posted the "Recovery Hall Of Mirrors" excerpt from The Final Fix.

Forwarded Message:
Date: Mon. Sep 25, 1995 4:41 PM EDT
From: Clifwalker

Several fundamentalist Christians I know think that "God as we understand Him" is pure idolatry. You are making up your own god or allowing the worship of false gods. Two or three denominations have begun to send their people here instead of AA because RR is absolutely neutral on spiritual matters. Spirituality is not relevant to using the RR techniques (listening to the voices; separating the Self from the desire to use; planning never to use again). Thus, RR is as neutral on spirituality as it is on atheism. Atheists, however, find RR more attractive than they do AA, so you will find much of the "recovering" atheist population in RR and very little of it in AA. I do not tolerate religion-bashing in my meetings -- even though we meet in the Portland Atheist Community Center.

It is no more possible to keep spirituality a focus than it is to keep atheism, humanism, or psychology a focus. RR, as a program, is neutral on these issues. We did make some atheistic remarks in our first book, but we regret them now and have changed our ways.

The religious beliefs of a mechanic are not going to affect how carefully he or she fixes your car; beliefs do not pertain to valves, mufflers, rings, and brakes. It can also be demonstrated that they do not affect his or her ethics either. And regardless of my religious beliefs, "God" still wants me to do certain things myself and will refuse to do those things for me. We see recovery the same way.

If an individual wants to apply religious or spiritual principles to his or her program, fine. RR is about doing those things that you can to increase your chances of staying clean. Rather than rely on spirituality, we buckle down and work. Then, if those in the realm of the spirit want to contribute to our success, all the better for us!

No. RR is neutral on the HP concept. Your religion is your business. The fact that I am more than an atheist -- I am an atheist spokesman on the level of being a public figure in Portland -- impairs my ability to present the RR message. My experience in NA made this real clear to me; I am much more sensitive to it than the other RR coordinators I've met (and even Jack Trimpey, until recently).

I cannot be a speaker at an NA convention and talk about addiction to video poker and stay within the NA traditions. However, l, as an NA member, can fully express my views on video poker. No fair while speaking for NA, though.

Trying to bring the HP issue into the RR agenda would contradict our very reason for starting RR: to provide a method of recovery where religion and spirituality are not an issue.

They are not antithetical; they are simply not relevant to the issues at hand: RR's techniques.

RR cannot tell you what to present as a comprehensive program. RR has gone on record as advocating that programs offer more than one philosophy and offer a choice to the clients. I think that is probably your answer. (Because you would need to be licensed by RR in order to offer RR as part of your treatment program, I can assure you that Lois Trimpey and the others at RR headquarters 916-621-2667 would be able to work with you on all the details.)

RR is a specific -- and very limited -- method that focuses only on addiction and deliberately avoids all other issues. And RR is just an option -- an option which, not surprisingly, presents recovery itself as an option. When presenting the RR methods, simply say, "This is what RR teaches" and let it go. When I stick to the strict RR program, my meetings get big and people come back and recover. When I get distracted and delve into other issues, I lose people's attention and ultimately the people themselves. When I tell people what to do, I lose them. When I offer them a well-informed choice, they usually make the choice that's best for them.

People are here to find out how to stop drinking and taking drugs; that is what they want (even if it's just to satisfy the courts for a while). When the drug is under control, any number of issues may or may not come up, each of which is probably a specialty in itself. We prefer to give people the choice (surprise!) of deciding how they are going to deal with the new life that abstinence has just given them.