- Series: Rational Recovery Systems
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Dell; Revised edition (December 2, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0440507251
- ISBN-13: 978-0440507253
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
The Small Book: A Revolutionary Alternative for Overcoming Alcohol and Drug Dependence (Rational Recovery Systems) Paperback – December 2, 1995
|New from||Used from|
$0.85 extra savings coupon applied at checkout.
Sorry. You are not eligible for this coupon.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Jack Trimpey is the founder of Rational Recovery Self-Help Network, which manages a network of free self-help groups in hundreds of cities here and aboard. He is also president of Rational Recovery Systems, Inc., a health care organization that certifies professionals, licenses hospitals and clinics to use Rational Recovery methods, and administers Rational Recovery residential programs nationwide.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Let me start off by saying that the program he presents is superb. I think it's a great alternative to AA for those of us who don't care for that program. He has a good presentation of REBT, especially as it relates to substance abuse. He covers everything from urge coping to the false ideas that support addictive behaviors (e.g. "I can't stand urges," "I have to have acceptance and love from other people," etc.) to the reasons we drink/use in the first place.
Quick side note for those that are wondering about the last false idea: variants of the idea that "I have to have acceptance/love from other people" IS common with addicted and formerly-addicted people; I've often heard people claim that they "need" their family to be more supportive, less critical, less "triggering," etc. so they can recover. Trimpey correctly points out that, while you'd obviously prefer that your family be supportive and it would probably help your recovery, you don't actually "need" it as an adult; you're perfectly capable of recovery even if you don't get it, and thinking otherwise just fosters unhealthy dependence (and an excuse for continued substance abuse). Obviously as adults we don't always get what we want, but we're still responsible for our behavior. Your family won't always act the way you want them to even if they are trying to be supportive (and, granted not all families actually are trying); this doesn't mean that you "can't quit drinking." This point initially sounded a little jarring to me but it was actually needed and helpful.
Sure, the urge coping skills are more developed in his later books but the REBT stuff in this book's a valuable addition to the material in his later books. For example, if you start with the belief that you "can't stand" urges, odds are you won't even try to cope with them no matter how many urge coping skills you know.
One criticism I have of this book is a criticism I have of the philosophy of REBT in general: the idea that you can get self-esteem and unconditional self-acceptance by "making it up." In REBT there's no objective truth to base this on; you don't need any kind of objective reality and it would be ridiculous and wrong to try to find it. You can do it just because it helps you, even if there's no particular basis for it. (So much for the "rational" part of the program, huh?) In my opinion this is philosophically incoherent. I think that this viewpoint is reflective of Albert Ellis's infatuation with existential philosophy, which both this author and Ellis presents as an obvious, demonstrated "fact" that no one could possibly disagree with. As those who are familiar with Ellis might guess, objective morality tends to get left by the wayside too. (Personally, if I were ever accused of a crime, I'd hope that I'd be judged according to fixed standards of justice, not by whatever the jury's preferences happened to be).
There were a number of cases where he had "mixed messages." He claims in several places to dislike the use of the label "alcoholic" (I agree; I dislike it too) but he uses it himself in several cases. His alternative ("substance dependence") also strikes me as semantics; I don't quite understand why that's better or what distinction he was trying to make. The bigger issues with the label is, as Tom Horvath puts it, it's classic "all-or-nothing" thinking. There's this pervasive idea out there that either you're 100% an "alcoholic" or you're 0% an alcoholic - either you are or you aren't. As Horvath points out (and I wish I had seen in Trimpey's book), substance abuse/dependence exists on a spectrum. Missing this point tends to invite comparisons - "well, I'm not as bad as so-and-so, so maybe I don't really need to quit."
Also, saying "I'm an alcoholic" makes it sound like substance abuse is a fundamental part of who you are (Trimpey does address this in his books as I recall).
Finally, if you believe that "either you're an alcoholic or you're not," you can obsess about whether you are or you're not; it's more helpful to think about it in terms of "alcohol causes me problems and it would be a good idea for me to quit." (Note "causes me problems" - NOT "I have an alcohol problem," which has the same issues as saying "I'm an alcoholic." "Problems" exist on a spectrum and is often easily provable but you can obsess about whether or not you "have a problem").
His criticism of AA is a bit more muted and balanced (with the exception of the issues I mention below) in this book than in some of his other books. He agrees that AA could be helpful for some people (I agree) but not for others (I also agree). He (correctly) objects to institutional AA and its cushy relationship with the government and broader therapeutic community as well as the "one-size-fits-all" view that AA, the 12 steps, and endless maintenance is the "only possible" way to recover. He quotes one treatment center president as saying that, without AA, you have a "0% chance" of recovery, which is ridiculous. He also (correctly) points out that the evidence for the effectiveness of AA is surprisingly weak and that many people are able to quit drugs on their own. The real breath of fresh air is that he doesn't believe that people who do poorly in AA are necessarily at fault; it could just be that AA's not the right program for you. A lot of people buy into the AA dogma that AA's a profoundly effective program for people who are willing to work it; if you don't want to work the AA program or aren't succeeding in it either there's something wrong with you (you're "constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself" or whatever) or you're working the program wrong or you're just not willing to quit.
The biggest complaint for me was its constant "sniping" at religion and people who believe in it; it's offensive, poorly argued, unnecessary, and counterproductive. This is a huge turn-off for those of us who are religious; it can frankly make the book extremely frustrating to read at times. The author also seems to imply that this program's primarily for humanists, which is unfortunate (and false). He mentions only in passing, towards the end of the book, that many Christians actually don't have a problem with using the program (or REBT in general) after all. I agree - I'm a Christian and have been helped by both RR and REBT. While I obviously disagree with some aspects of it, I still find much of it helpful.
In general, the author's very patronizing towards anyone who agrees with any kind of an organized religion and claims that there's "not a shred of evidence" for any of it. He doesn't interact with any of the arguments for the existence of God or the historicity of the Bible (or other religious books), nor does he present any actual evidence for humanism or against religion (other than blindly claiming that there's no evidence for religion). I wouldn't have a problem with him not discussing the arguments for and against God seeing as it's beyond the scope of book; my problem is that, having brought it up, he ridicules his opponents without proof and without even examining their actual position or arguments. Not only that, it's totally unnecessary and counterproductive to set up religious people as his opponents in the first place.
It quickly becomes painfully obvious that he has no expertise in the subject matter. He regularly uses straw-men arguments and makes a number of laughable accusations against organized religion; for example, he claims that Christianity believes that people are of variable worth, which is so ridiculous it doesn't even merit a response.
The author also falsely equates AA with Christianity while ignoring several "minor" points like the fact that AA no doctrine of Christ & His death and resurrection, the Trinity, the Bible, etc.; the fact that AA borrows some lingo and practices from Christianity decidedly does NOT mean that they're the same. This is actually one of the reasons I left AA in the first place - the "god" of AA is basically whatever you make up, NOT the God of the Bible. I'm OK, you're OK - the actual truth doesn't matter.
Overall, I do recommend this book and believe that it'll be helpful in your overall recovery. In fact, it'll be tremendously helpful. This book actually compliments his later RR book well so if you've only read one I recommend you read the other one too (see my review of that one). He also has a decent book on eating disorders (also reviewed by yours truly) that's a nice compliment to these books as well.