LifeRingThis is the first in what will be a series of stories from LifeRing members about their experience in finding and joining LifeRing.

In 1999, I was a “functional” addict steadily becoming less functional. I owned a bookstore in Port Angeles, WA, a small town about 50 miles west of Seattle. I’d been drinking for years, of course, and was having less and less success in “controlling” it. Since I was the owner, I could take long lunches and/or go home early in the afternoon. You can guess what I did with the time.

I lived alone. I had left a bad marriage a few years before. One thing that had kept me in the marriage was the realization that living alone, my drinking would get worse. And it did. But by ’99 I was ready to face the fact that not only did I need to quit drinking, I needed help to do that.

I was pretty isolated outside of work and had nobody to talk to about my addiction. The only group available in my town was AA. I had flipped through copies of the “Big Book” when they came in used to my bookshop and had firmly established that it wasn’t for me. But where else could I turn? I searched on Google for “alternatives AA” but only got AA sites. Finally, I hit on the term – “secular” — that brought up LifeRing.

From the first moment of my first visit to the LifeRing website (then unhooked.com; now lifering.org) I felt a surge of hope. These were people like me: people who didn’t feel powerless, just in need of a helping hand; people who didn’t want a heavily structured program powered by slogans and Steps and “higher powers,” people who wanted to deal with present life, not wallow in the black despair of the past.

I joined a LifeRing email group, LSRmail, and knew at once that I’d found a home and that the “support” piece of my recovery puzzle was in place. There were other pieces I needed to find and recovery for me was never quick or easy. But LifeRing was always there for me and I’ve remained involved ever since. It truly was a life ring for me.

–Craig Whalley