AVRT and the Wine Witch

addiction alcohol alcohol-free avrt coaching gifts of sobriety jack trimpey katebaily love sober love yourself sober mandymanners rational recovery smart recovery wellbeing Feb 04, 2022

The letters AVRT stand for Addictive Voice Recognition Technique which comes from the work of Jack Trimpey’s book 'Rational Recovery.' AVRT recognizes that the human brain can be divided into two parts: There is the primitive animal brain which consists of the limbic system, the brain stem and so forth which is essential for basic survival, and there are frontal lobes which are responsible for abstract thought, planning, and the other things which make us uniquely human.

The animal brain is responsible for essential things like breathing and sex, but it is also responsible for the formation of conditioned reflexes including that special subset of conditioned responses which we refer to as addiction. It is the limbic system which is responsible for the voice of craving--for the idea that one must pursue alcohol or drugs or other potentially destructive behaviors for the sake of short-term reward at all costs--sometimes even at the cost of one's life.

AVRT calls this the Beast Brain (The Craving Brain) – It can also be called the T-Rex brain to show the force and the destruction which can be forged in order to get what it wants. In contrast to the Beast Brain, it is the frontal lobes--the uniquely human part of the brain--which tell us that we sometimes need to put aside immediate gratification for the sake of more important long-term gains. The frontal lobes are the rational part of the brain and the real "you". It is the “you” which is aligned with your values which so often the destructive behaviour leads you away from.

AVRT teaches people to clearly distinguish the voice of the beast brain from the voice of their real self. AVRT teaches us to talk back to the voice of the craving. When the Beast Brain starts telling you that you "have to have a drink or a drug because you are stressed or anxious or depressed or feeling social anxiety", then you need to talk back to the Beast Brain.

How to Deal with the AV

Tell the voice of craving to "Shut the F-- up",  say to it "I am not gonna drink today and you can't make me!' or simply a quiet 'I don't drink.'  Then go and distract yourself, change the environment, do a hobby, dance it out in the kitchen, go for a run, send up a flare. This way you can take back power by recognising the voice and then choosing to ignore it – I hear you, but I don’t trust you and I want more than your B.S. You starve it of oxygen and it dies off over time as you build the new muscle of NO and resilience - AND .. it gets easier and easier until it's silent most of the time! 

It can be helpful to give the Addictive Voice a character – perhaps it is the Wine witch or Beer Monster – or a character that scared you as a child like the Wicked Witch or Voldemort. Something that makes you recoil with disgust – definitely not someone you will listen to when they say ‘you can have one, you’re not that bad.’

The Addictive Voice is your enemy ANY thoughts you have in your head that tell you that you need to drink are the ENEMY.

The ENEMY voice will put forth irrational ideas and beliefs to try and make you drink, but you can defeat the voice of the ENEMY by disputing these irrational ideas.

Here are some examples of the voice of the ENEMY:

  1. I am so depressed/anxious/stressed that I have to drink right now!
  2. I can't do today without alcohol!
  3. My boss is driving me to drink by being IMPOSSIBLE!
  4. I can't do a whole week - it is too HARD!
  5. It isn't FAIR that I can’t drink today!

Here are some examples of how you can use your rational voice to dispute these irrational ideas:

  1. Being depressed/anxious/stressed really sucks but I can deal with it for one day. Think of how proud I will feel tomorrow after I wake up sober!
  2. I didn't need to drink alcohol when I was a baby--I surely don't HAVE to drink it now that I am an adult.
  3. My boss's bad actions cannot force me to drink. I may really dislike my boss’s bad actions, but I can still choose to abstain for MY benefit!
  4. Can't do a whole week? Shut up Beast Brain! I have done it before. I am strong enough to do one week!
  5. Fair? Beast Brain--you are really clutching at straws now! Alcohol is a toxic addictive carcinogen it’s unfair that society tricked me into having put this poison in my system for so long.

The sooner you can shut down the conversation, the quicker the craving will pass ( science says around 20 minutes for a craving ) so go and do something else as you watch yourself win round after round! Then get on a sober forum to celebrate your success and have a sober treat! 

Trimpey focuses on the concept of choice - No one ever puts a gun to your head and forces you to drink. You are NEVER powerless over alcohol. It is always YOU who chooses to drink or not to drink, you’re always sober when you take that first drink. So, you either choose to listen to that mental voice or you reject it. AVRT is a tool to help you succeed at rejecting it. So, recognize that voice which tells you to drink as the ENEMY and CHOOSE to reject it.


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