Alcoholics Seek Alternative To Aa

Rational Recovery To Meet In Carroll Starting Wednesday

February 06, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

After thousands of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Allan Compton of Taylorsville found a self-help group that made more sense to him.

"I'd been trying for years, and I could not relate to AA because of the emphasis on God," said Compton, 39.

What Compton, who believes in God, likes about Rational Recovery is the emphasis on people -- rather than a higher power -- having control over whether they abuse alcohol or drugs.

Rational Recovery will begin meetings in Carroll County next Wednesday at the North Carroll Library in Greenmount.

"We don't think that (AA is) wrong," said Rational Recovery organizer Nan Nelson of Neudecker Road in Westminster. "We just don't think it's right for everyone."

Compton, whowent to Alcoholics Anonymous on and off since 1978, is working with Nelson to start Rational Recovery groups in Carroll.

In addition to the North Carroll meeting, others will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at the County Office Building in Westminster and 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the SouthCarroll Library in Eldersburg.

Compton said that although AA tells members they don't have to believe in God, it does push addicts to choose some higher power and assign it control of their lives.

"They (at AA) tell you to 'Let go and let God.' I want to have control in my life," he said. "Rational Recovery is a thinking man's group, and AA is for a person who goes along more on their feelings."

Compton said he was a binge drinker from 1975 until about a year ago when he completed an outpatient program at a mental health center in Columbia.

"I kept thinking, it's not because I spent all this money on this program, it's because I made a conscious decision not to drink,"he said.

His wife first insisted he seek treatment, he said, but it was a mutual decision.

His drinking had led to three arrests for driving while intoxicated, problems in his marriage and obstacles in finishing his degree in nursing at the University of Maryland, he said.

Nelson, 49, started the first Rational Recovery group in the state a year ago in Reisterstown, where she got meeting space at the Unitarian Universalist Church she attends. She started the group after bristling at the religion and talk of not having control at the AA and Al-Anon meetings she was attending because of her 23-year-old son's drinking problem.

Since last spring, Nelson also has started groups in Catonsville and Columbia.

She said the group has had trouble getting courts and health departments to refer people to RationalRecovery. A bill now before the General Assembly would require courts, which often send addicts to support groups, to inform them of alternatives to AA that don't involve religion, Nelson said.

California social worker and former alcoholic Jack Trimpey first started the Rational Recovery movement five years ago, and more than 100 groups have formed since in the United States and abroad, Nelson said. Trimpeybased Rational Recovery on Rational Emotive Therapy, a psychologicaltheory started in the 1950s by Albert Ellis of New York City.

In addition to Rational Recovery groups for addictions, Nelson hopes to start groups using the same philosophy for weight control and other dependencies.

Although Nelson has never had a drinking problem, shesaid she applies discussion from meetings toward controlling her diet to avoid the diabetes that's afflicted much of her family.

Membership and meetings are free, although sometimes leaders ask for donations toward mailing and copying costs, Nelson said. No money goes to any national group, she said. Nelson can be reached at 876-6702.

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