Martin Nicolaus, LifeRing’s founding leader and author of our three LifeRing books, passes along this mention of LifeRing in a recent article co-authored by the widely-respected writer on addiction William L. White. John Kelly was the other author and the passage appeared in the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery under the title “Broadening the Base of Addiction Mutual-Help Organizations.” Here’s what they said about us:
LifeRing for Secular Sobriety [actually, LifeRing Secular Recovery] is a cognitive-behaviorally oriented support group that emphasizes a tradition of positive psychology rather than spirituality or religious ideas. Founded in 2001, it has grown to about 140 [more than 170 as of now] face-to- face meetings as well as online meetings with about 1,000 participants [at any given time]. It has already begun surveys of its membership (sample responded = 401) indicating 58% were male, the average age was 47.8 years old, more than 80% had attended some college, and 44% had a bachelors degree. The average length of sobriety was 2.74 years. In the past year, 40% reported attending a religious service of some kind. In keeping with LifeRing’s goal of targeting any kind of substance dependence, survey respondents’ primary substances covered a full range of substances of misuse including tobacco. [a recently completed new survey will update these results, but probably won’t change them radically]
The LifeRing approach centers on empowerment of the “sober self” characterized by three major components: recognition, activation, and mastery. Recognition emphasizes insight and empowerment by realizing that the “sober self” is a part of who individuals are and has helped them access help and get to this point in their lives. Activation is about living in sobriety and facing the challenges of recovery, which is discussed in group meetings. Mastery is supported through empowering individual members to develop their own “Personal Recovery Program” (PRP). Individuals’ PRPs can be allowed to occur naturally as things progress, or more strategically by working through the organization’s Recovery by Choice workbook. This facilitates the formation of the PRP across nine different recovery-related domains.
The LifeRing approach is essentially a grassroots experientially based mutual-help group but is informed by the latest treatment and recovery research. Consequently, it incorporates ideas from cognitive-behavioral, motivational, humanistic, existential, and positive psychology areas. No studies have been conducted on LifeRing, but its continued expansion is evidence of its value to many individuals suffering a variety of substance addiction problems. Future research should focus on which individuals may be likely to engage with the organization and on its effectiveness in helping individuals maintain recovery.