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Category Archives: Essays

It’s All Fun and Games: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Hi friends. I almost hate writing this post, but I really can’t seem to help myself, so…let me begin by properly introducing myself:

Hi, I’m Bobbi, and I’m a complete and total buzzkill.

Wait – whaaa’?

That’s right. I’m a buzzkill – Bobbi Bummer Buzzkill, at your service. It seems that since I’ve become a “person in long-term recovery” (i.e. bboorrr-iiinnng), I’ve noticed with a combination of amusement and horror the ridiculous lengths to which we find new and dumber ways to perpetuate the drinking myth – that alcohol will take care of just about everything, and therefore should be in just about everything – in our culture. Which I then feel compelled to share with all of you.

I’m sure some of you may be thinking, “So what? Why do this?” To which I can only say, you’re right – who the hell do I think I am, coming down on people who can have their fun without me poo-pooing this and tsk-tsking that like I’m some kind of pseudo-In- Long-Term Recovery-Church Lady?

Well, for the record, I can ignore people and their drinking quite easily – do it all the time, actually, and hardly ever think much about it. People drink and have a good time, people get drunk and do fun/silly/stupid shit, people get drunk and kill themselves, people get drunk and kill other people –  it’s all just another day in the life in America.

But lately (OK, yesterday), throughout my time online I was peppered with several of these fun-coded messages of Ain’t This Great-ness, all involving alcohol, geared mostly toward women, all…day…long. At first I just went with the flow, but by the end of it my “Oh, dear god, you have GOT to be kidding me” meter had reached the saturation point, and now, well, I have to say something.

First was this cute, funny, very timely “IMomSoHard” video about what women of a certain age with an average body type/figure have to deal with come swimsuit season, and just how utterly ridiculous it can be. Allow me to say this: I really like it! I get a real kick out of these ladies and love where they’re coming from, ‘cuz, um, I can totally relate – and I’m not even a Mommy!

So I hate to complain, you know? I wonder, what would this video have looked like without the wine, though? I’m sure it would’ve been just as funny and just as good. It only makes a somewhat subtle appearance, like it’s just the perfect conversation piece to accompany the subject matter at hand – women having to put up with the outrageous expectations of what being a woman is in this day and age – and no doubt a prop to signify it’s just a part of the fun.

OK, I get that. Mommys gotta have their wine, fine, whatever.

But…were those mini bottles of booze I saw sitting on the red chair in the background during their posing sesh? Like, maybe this video was brought to us by Bacardi? No, no, it’s probably just those little sample bottles of perfume. Or mouthwash. Or something.

Then a little later on in the day I came across this Cosmopolitan Magazine post on Hip Sobriety’s Facebook page, and then the meter started really registering in little fits. The old-fashioned flask aside, this business of sneaking fermented beverages in somewhere with you on your person in such a manner isn’t really anything new, believe it or not. “The Beer Belly” and “The Wine Rack” came into vogue years ago, and as you can see on their pages they retail right along with several other such handy little items on Amazon.

How convenient! What hilarity! I mean, it’s only wine, fer chrissakes, not, like, vodka or something. I’m sure that Cosmo girl doesn’t have a problem or anything.

And I used to think that was a pretty ingenious idea, actually – but even when I was still drinking you couldn’t have paid me enough to try doing such a thing, at work or any place else. (Wait, does this mean I’ve always been Bbooorrr-iiinnng™?) Now it just seems desperate, cheap, and really, not all that funny.

Hip Sobriety’s eloquent words on the subject (Note: the post comes up but then directly links to Cosmo’s video – just X out of the video page and you should be able to read it) reminded me of – and stated much more effectively than I can – the reasons why this shit bothers me, so I’m most happy to see I’m not alone.

And last, but certainly not least, I came across the final insult of the day (on a website called “Thrillist”): Yes, Virginia, we have rum raisin ice cream – hold the raisin…

To which I can only ask, “Why is this needed?” To which I can only hear so many fun, urbane, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, young(-)ish ladies answering, “Why not? God, stop being such a stick in the mud!”

Oh, right, that. Sorry…

~~

P.S. For those of you wondering about, and still waiting for, Part 2 of my series “On Belief”, I’m still working on it, and will be publishing it in short order. Honest! 🙂

 

 

 

 

It’s All Fun and Games…Pour Votre Santé!

 

Well dear readers, what can I tell you? When it comes to our national obsession with making sure alcohol’s a part of everything we do, I think I may have finally seen it all. And I just…I just…I just…

Here, just read it: The Weird Intersection of Booze and Fitness Could Be Big Business For Both Sides (filed under “Wellness”, of course).

The fact that very few readers find anything wrong with this in their Comments is not a big surprise, although I do wonder what sorts of responses they might come up with if they were confronted with, say, studies that show drinking alcohol post-exercise doesn’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly (or, a peanut butter and chocolate protein shake. Or something). Clearly it won’t cause any of the participating gyms or booze-merchants looking for a great new way to make a buck (or their marks) to re-think it, so…

What’s next? Bar service at the ER? We all know what a long, boring, emotionally-wrought ordeal that can be. Better yet, how about offering patients a nice glass of heart-healthy vino in physicians’ waiting rooms? Along with the pharmaceutical representatives who hound doctors’ offices with free samples and goody bags, wine sellers and a discerning in-office concierge could make a such a difference in the stressful lives of patients and their physicians (not to mention their staffs).

Speaking of staffs, I’m reminded of a story a doctor I used to work for told me about finally establishing with Primary Care Physician after years of avoidance – doctors are notoriously derelict patients – who extolled the virtues of at least 3 -4 glasses of wine daily to him.  Suffice it to say, he found that a bit…excessive.

Even for your health!

~~

On Belief, Part I: The Reflex

 

Hey, everyone – how are you all doing out there? 

If you’re a new reader of our blog and I haven’t had the chance to greet you before, welcome! If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, welcome back! You may have also been wondering whether you’d ever see anything new from me again or if I’d abandoned ship completely…

Well…what can I tell you? You probably already know that I’ve been sucked into the LifeRing social media vortex for a while (say, have you Liked our Facebook page yet? Are you Following us on Twitter?), but what you don’t know is that I’ve had a few things I’ve been stewing over for a long time, the past in year in particular. In terms of wrangling my thoughts into something resembling a coherent fashion – which in my brain amounts to a 3 ring circus where anything that can go around in endless circles will – I’ve been concerned with trying to express myself in a way you won’t find snore-inducing, offensive, or just plain bizarre.

Until now, I’ve done a little writing about it here and there, I just haven’t published any of it. It’s delicate subject matter intensely personal to all of us, so much so that it’s not something very many of us enjoy having total strangers who know nothing about us, nor whom we know much about, challenge: our beliefs.

Let me put it to you this way…

Have you ever believed something beyond a shadow of a doubt – would have staked your life and the life of your Grandmother on it – only to find out it was just an illusion?

Before you say “No, never, not me!” bear in mind that you and I both know this hasn’t been an uncommon occurrence in the history of mankind. Some examples of it could be something as simple as (quick, cover your kid’s eyes!) finding out Santa Claus is only a fictional character to discovering someone you trusted implicitly has a lot of best interests in mind, but yours is not one of them.

Makes you feel like a damned fool, doesn’t it? Me, I hate not knowing things, just hate it. It makes me feel like something I found of value about myself – i.e. knowing things other people need to know but don’t off-hand, such as where the bathrooms are in Lowe’s (in an effort only to be helpful, of course, although in some circles this is known as being a “busybody” or a “know it all”) – suddenly went in the discount bin, without my permission. It’s an unsettling, discomforting betrayal of the sort that will set one back on their heels and make solid ground feel awful shaky for a while.

But. These things happen to the best of us, especially when the illusion is artfully constructed or portrayed, and by no means make us faulty characters beyond hope or redemption. We’re an imperfect lot, us homo sapiens, pitfall prone, warts and all – but by god, we know what we believe in, and why.

Simply put, belief is an essential component to the human experience. Belief in oneself or another, for example, can make all the difference in someone’s life when nothing else will. Belief in things greater than oneself – or lack thereof – can, too. It’s how we tell our stories – about ourselves, one another, where we come from, where we’re going, why things are the way they are, and why we are the way we are.

Belief allows us to form ideals and principles which help us to connect us to one another and the world around us. It instructs, informs, and imbues our reality with meaning and purpose. It can propel us forward into exploration and discovery of new worlds or keep us rooted in our many and rich histories and traditions. Belief helps us succeed, helps us fail, helps us help one another.

For all of these reasons and more, we need belief with which to frame our experience as much as anything else in our lives. Like most every other facet of human nature, however, it’s a double-edged sword which colors our perceptions while it adds or detracts, benefits or harms, progresses or digresses, shapes and distorts our experiences in ways both positive and negative – and very often, both at the same time.

Where it gets all dark and twisty, though, is when we accept something as true without being aware of any factual evidence or basis upon which to do so – and everyone does it in some way or another, whether we’re aware of it or not. Don’t we make decisions about what we believe is true about ourselves, other people, situations, or environments every day?

But it can get especially messy when we cart these beliefs around with us until they become unshakeable parts of our worldview – and of who we are in it – such that no one could pay us enough to believe anything else. Even more fraught with peril still is when a bunch of like-minded individuals get together. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes, it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing. Sometimes, it’s a mob with torches and pitchforks.

Again, there is nothing uncommon about this quirk of human nature in our time here together on Earth, so far as I can tell.

Remember that time when almost everyone believed the Sun revolved around our flat Earth, even though Eratosthenes figured out it was round way back in 240 B.C., right up until those stinking heretics Copernicus and Galileo came along during the Renaissance and really screwed everything up?

Thank goodness for those pesky scientists, right? And yet…

Dig if you will the picture of “modern” medicine a little under a century and a half ago. Sure, we got by and everything, but did you know that doctors back then had no idea that they should wash their hands before, in between, and after caring for their patients to keep from spreading deadly infectious bacteria and viral matter from one to the other to the other (or, as was often the case, from the trusty educational cadaver to still-living patient)? And that even when Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a respected medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, discovered through observation and trial that was exactly the case, they still refused to change their practice?

Yeah, that’s right – his colleagues roundly criticized his silly little hand-washing idea, ignored him, and sent them both packing to the insane asylum he died in for reasons unthinkable today. Many of his fellows were incensed, for example, that anyone would dare suggest bacteria could be carried around on a gentleman’s hands. Really.

And then, having later found out his ideas were absolutely correct (which then gave birth to the study and proliferation of science at the cellular, microscopic levels, and ushered in the modern era of medicine, the universe, and practical living as we know it), you would think such a tragic chapter in human history would remain closed forever. Because after that. we would have learned our lesson and become hip to not ignoring shit at our peril, right?

Yeah, uh, hold up. Let us pause and reflect upon what we know now, and how such a simple little thing could have saved hundreds upon thousands of lives across the millennia if only we’d known about it – and then accepted the fundamental possibility of it instead of dismissing it because it did not conform to our previously held beliefs.

Mind-boggling, idn’t it?

Now, fast forward to our current age of enlightenment and reason. (Laying it on pretty thick there, aren’t I?) Does what eventually became known as the Semmelweiss reflex still figure anywhere in our thinking, culture, discourse – indeed, the very fibers of our being – to the extent it renders – yes – even reasonable, rational, thoughtful, intelligent, sentient beings into quivering blobs of dissonant, doubtful, ignorant, dismissive goo?

Why yes, yes it does.

And so, by now you may be asking, “Alright, fine, but what does all this belief business have to do with addiction and recovery?”

Everything.

 

If you like what you’ve read so far, I hope you’ll join me in the next month (or so) for On Belief, Part II: The Conundrum. 🙂

~~

Craig Whalley’s Success Story Featured On Eminent Potential!

a-lifering-success-story

 

Hey, everyone! Long time no see, huh?

Well, what can I tell you? I’ve gotten sucked into the all-things-Facebook vortex, that’s what. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we’re on Facebook, and guess who’s the “Page Manager”? (No, really. Guess! Haha) 

I’m not complaining, really – I’ve gained a boatload of fun and valuable skills in the process – but like the good little raccoon I am (ooooohhhh, look! Something shiny! **Toddles off to make whatever it may be my very own**), I tend to get a little…distracted. And, as such, you fine folks end up neglected.

And so, here I am, asking for both your forgiveness (pretty please?) and your renewed attention to the latest important thing in the LifeRing universe, and it’s this:

Eminent Potential, a new website focused on pairing people with recovery coaches open to multiple pathways – yay!, has featured our own Craig Whalley’s recovery story on their Success Stories page, and so  of course I want to share it with you!

Idn’t that thoughtful of me? Please click here to read Craig’s story.

On a personal note, I’d just like to say that if it weren’t for Craig getting sober – and starting up the LSR Safe e-mail group – I really have no idea where I’d be now. Maybe sober, but very likely not, and for that, he has my utmost respect, admiration, friendship, and love. Honestly, he has such a wealth of intelligence combined with staunch, and yet unusually gentle, supportiveness I started calling him “Yoda” after a while.

Anyway. Once again the blasted holidays (aka “Primary Excuses to Wreck Oneself If One Doesn’t First Check Oneself”) are coming up, so hold onto your lugnuts – it’s tiiiiiiiimmme for an overhaul!

See you again soon. 🙂

~~

LifeRing Success Stories

lifering-success-stories

Please enjoy these success stories of members who have benefited from LifeRing recovery over the years since our founding in 1997 – we hope you take hope, comfort, and inspiration from all of them. If you would like to share your story, we require only that you simply write it (up to 500 words) and email it to service@lifering.org with “Success Stories” in the subject line. Easy!

 

I had a happy childhood with parents who loved us and each other.  I was a ‘highly strung’ child with phobias and was therefore a soft target for classroom bullies.  I went to university and on the first social occasion (a university union vodka promotion!) realised that alcohol would provide me with ‘Dutch courage’. 

I got married to a very kind man and when we were saving up for a deposit to buy a house we restricted our drinking to a bottle of wine on Friday and Saturday nights with our meal.  They were happy times however they couldn’t last. 

I made some attempts to stop.  I assumed my drinking was because I had a very hard life.  I was incapable of taking responsibility for anything in my life.  I was utterly selfish and miserable.

Eventually, after a 24-hour bender I stumbled into AA.  I credit AA with drumming into me that I had lost the ability to control my drinking – if I had ever had any control.  That I needed to be totally abstinent from alcohol and to take life one day at a time.  Fear kept me away from alcohol. I did eventually work through the AA programme although I always struggled with the idea of surrendering to a higher power. 

I was brought up to believe that it was my own efforts in life that would bring results, that I was not powerless.  I did the AA steps again a few years back.  I liked the self-honesty required however I felt the programme encouraged within me a passivity around life (just ‘hand it over’) and a sense of failure when I was incapable of accepting my fate.  When I stated to AA friends that I believe I kept myself sober it was often met with a sharp intake of breath.

A friend who I love and respect had moved away from AA and into LifeRing.  She was living proof that people leave AA and don’t necessarily drink.  I asked her about LifeRing and she steered me to the website.  I ordered ‘Empowering Your Sober Self’.  It made so much sense to me.  At last!  I had ‘permission’ to craft my own programme (which I had really been doing anyway).  The only thing to do was not to drink or drug no matter what. 

In my 21 years of sobriety I have experienced bereavement, unemployment, illness, major surgery and financial instability.  This stuff has affected my life as it is part of my life.  I have made the decision during the dark times not to pick up a drink (or a drug).  When I make that decision, I have clenched my fists in preparation for a fight.  I have been on my guard against forgetting my drinking past – especially during the good times, of which there have been many.  I take responsibility for my behaviour today.  The old addict self is much diminished but is still there waiting for its chance.  I know that I must help other addicts and alcoholics.  In fact, I no longer refer to myself as being alcoholic as I now find the term too exclusive as it forces people to identify themselves as being different from other people with alcohol problems. I volunteer with a drug and alcohol recovery service and see that alcohol affects many people badly and one doesn’t need to hit a ‘rock bottom’ to stop and learn the nature of their addiction.  I have just started a LifeRing meeting at the Recovery Centre as I am determined that other addicts should have a choice and not have 12-Step fellowships as their only option (AA did LifeRing a big favour here!)

I am an unremarkable woman with an unremarkable drinking story.  What is remarkable is the fact that I am one of the lucky few people in the world who became addicted to alcohol and managed to stop drinking.  Everything else is a bonus!

 

I struggled with my addiction to alcohol for decades. Most of the time I was a ‘functioning’ alcoholic. Sometimes I would abstain for a week or two until I was convinced I could handle my liquor. Try as I might I never could for long as a couple of beers turned into a couple of drinks and soon I was only drinking beer as a chaser after a long pull off of a big bottle.

From the fall of 2014 until the spring of 2015 I was at my absolute worst. After alienating my family, losing my job and experiencing multi-day blackouts I finally took action by calling the VA.

I had my last drink June 16th of 2015 and started in an IOP program on Monday the 22nd. While in IOP I began to wonder what I was going to do once I graduated. I knew from previous experience that for me Alcoholics Anonymous was more likely to make me drink than keep me sober. After seeing a post on a bulletin board advertising a Lifering Secular Recovery meeting in the hospital, I did some research and found a couple of face to face meetings within a half an hour of my home. I began attending Lifering in July and took over convening a meeting the following February.

I can honestly say that without LifeRing there is no way I would be sober today. I got myself sober with the help of the VA but LifeRing meetings are what have kept me going. The help, encouragement and support are fantastic. Convening meetings had given me even more confidence which in turn gives me the opportunity to help others.

LifeRing has made a world of difference in life and my success in sobriety. I enjoy being a link in the support chain for others as well as that only strengthens my own resolve.

 

I have no idea whether my slip into full-blown into alcoholism was unusual or altogether typical but I do know that on my 40th birthday I woke up knowing that I had a problem and that I needed to address it. I can’t explain why it took me another 22 years to make a commitment to real sobriety nor why I never got DUI, lost my lifelong partner or got fired from my job.  My best guess is that I was exceedingly lucky on all counts. 

During those two decades I went through an extended outpatient program as well as a month-long residential program. Both were 12-step programs and neither enabled me to stay sober for more than a few months. I don’t know whether that was because of the nature of the programs or because I was not yet ready to stop drinking.

What I do know is that early in 2015 I entered a five-day detox program, and while there I attended my first LifeRing meeting. At that meeting I found myself among a group whose members believe that a program of collective empowerment was more likely to be effective than any confession of complete powerlessness over alcohol.

I have been attending meetings since that day and now serve as the convenor of a small group. Can I say with confidence that absent LifeRing I would probably still be drinking today? I do not know. What I do know is that LifeRing has been essential as I approach the end of my second year of abstinence and for that I am exceedingly grateful.

 

I was a small town bookseller living alone after a difficult marriage and divorce when I finally acknowledged to myself that I needed help to quit drinking. 

We had copies of the AA “Big Book” at my bookstore and I would flip through it at times, hoping to find The Answer but was always disappointed. To start with I’m not religious at all and the idea of being “powerless” was offensive to me.

When I found LifeRing on the internet, I knew instantly that I’d found what I was looking for: supporters who weren’t concerned with my spiritual life, didn’t insist on a one-size-fits-all approach but rather emphasized that it is each person’s responsibility for building their own personal recovery plan. Addiction wasn’t labeled a character defect but rather a condition rooted in genetics, psychology and life-experiences.

LifeRing had no meetings anywhere near me so not knowing what to expect I joined a LifeRing email group on the internet. It functioned like a slow motion, 24/7/365 support meeting that I could enter or leave whenever I chose without missing anything. It was a perfect fit for me. I participated actively and knew that the “support” piece of the recovery puzzle was in place.

Support isn’t the only thing needed however and it still took me a good long time to get sober for good. I had to learn things about myself, about the nature of addiction and about what I needed to change and what I needed to hold on to. But it’s been more than 15 years now since I had a drink. I’m not Mr. Happy now — my life isn’t filled with joy every minute. But I’ve regained my health and my self-respect.

People entering recovery need to know that there are choices. I’m so glad I made the right choice.

 

In 1970, at age 30, I recognized that I had an alcohol problem. I consulted with my MD and he wrote me a prescription for Antabuse. Because AA was, by choice, not an option, I had no support and soon relapsed.

About eight years later I managed, with virtually no withdrawal discomfort/anxiety, to stop smoking and drinking, which began a cycle of sobriety/relapse lasting the next twenty-nine years. After getting out of detox the last time, one of my sisters told me of a woman she knew from the League of Women Voters who was married to a man from an organization called LifeRing, a non-religious support group.

I took the information and went to my first LifeRing meeting. That was October, 2007. I found an approach that respects everyone’s individuality, indeed urging you to discover what you need to do to maintain your sobriety. I hope that acknowledging that many of us need multiple sober/relapse episodes before achieving a comfortable, not-taken-for-granted sobriety will lend needed support, not shame, to those for whom relapse prevention is still a 24/7 concern.

 

A few months back our Service Center received a letter from a earnest young man incarcerated in Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas, California named Mykel Hall, who was requesting information about our program to help him find another way to recover besides the 12 Steps – the only recovery group available in the majority of prisons throughout the U.S. – while finishing his sentence.

As is often the case, our own Craig Whalley not only sent Mykel our materials, but took it upon himself to begin corresponding with Mykel. Mykel found that LifeRing was right for him, but knew his fellow inmates at Elmwood would want to participate in it, too – so he started his own meeting. And it’s been a great success!

Here are a few letters, the first from Mykel, expressing what LifeRing’s meant to people at his meeting who want to better themselves on the inside so they can continue bettering themselves on the outside, as well. Their stories offer hope and encouragement.

11-14-16

Dear Craig,

Thank you for your wonderful letter and quick response I love the newsletter. Because we don’t have access to the internet it really helps to having things to read on LifeRing business.

Of course you can use my full name if you need to tell my or our story. I have no problem with that, anything I can do to help.

Enclosed you will find letters from some of our Sunday Sunraisers meeting members. I wanted to have them write to share what LifeRing has done for them and also to give some encouragement to the Board that supporting our efforts will spread the LifeRing message.

Feel free to post my name and contact info. for anyone who would like to correspond and assist with furthering our cause. If the guy who is composing your annual fundraising needs more background on me I am more than willing to share my story. I really like the idea of the donate button. Each week I donate cups of coffee to groups members so when they come it feels like what you would find at an outside NA or AA meeting.

I really would like to take LifeRing to other facilities once I am released. 12 Steps dominate here in Elmwood but as more men learn about LifeRing they are taking it and running with it.

I will keep you posted on the happenings and changes here. I look forward to hearing how the Board of Directors meeting went. Anything I can do to help LifeRing please let me know.

Sincerely,

Mykel Hall

***

Lifering meetings have helped me express how my struggle with addiction has affected me. I had heard about it before, but was hesitant to attend any meetings, or seek help. I thought that I could do it by myself. While I had success, trying to recover by myself left me without any resources or support to assist me when things got difficult. Talking in a a group about our short timer goals the past week and the future week allowed me to stay focused and to receive helpful tips and new perspectives offered by the group. LifeRing meetings have made my recovery easier, without me needing to rely on outside help, or focus on things that don’t help me.

Paul C.

***

As an inmate, my personal experience with LifeRing has been a good one. One of the first things that stood out was the atmosphere and the warm welcome one receives automatically when they enter the circle. This was important to me because it set the foundation of what to expect from its group holder. Because of the warm welcome I instantly want to be open to the idea of sharing my personal conflicts that I was facing during the week. Because it’s designed not to so much focus on one’s personal religious background it allowed me to feel more comfortable in sharing my personal feelings and opinions about a particular subject without having to feel worried about being religious or politically correct about the matters. LifeRing I found to be another good resource to help relieve tension that one might feel by allowing the participant to freely discuss issues and a safe environment while being receptive to positive cross talk among his peers in which who might be experiencing similar feelings about a particular topic. Saying all that I definitely can see the benefits from its material. Anything that helps one be at peace with himself is a good group to be a part of, especially in a hostile environment as jail could be without the proper means to a degree.

Phyl C.

***

My name is Joe. I have been attending LifeRing meetings with Mykel since he first introduced what LifeRing was all about. Prior to LifeRing AA was the place to be, but out with the higher power and in with the self-power! With empowerment, encouragement, and openness our LifeRing meetings bring, I have been able to face lifelong challenges I’ve been struggling with since, when? Either addiction, or coping from addiction, LifeRing has provided me with the courage and oomph to break out of my hiding spot of a shell! I believe with this secular support, I can achieve greater heights from my old self!  Thank you, LifeRing!

Joseph S

***

I attended my first meeting this week and I have to say that it was really fruitful so I will be attending regularly. I was invited without knowing what it was and found out quickly that it was an alternative to NA, which I have attended a couple of times and knew it wasn’t for me. I appreciate the material, program layout and Mykel and the others who attend the meeting for being supportive. I would like to thank you for caring enough about ours and others’ sobriety to put together a program like this.

Loneal H.

***

My name is Cedrick A. and I am here in Elmwood Jail and I attended LifeRing meetings here and since I attended my first meeting I have been hooked that there is a way to stay clean other than NA. Thanks to LifeRing for saving my life.

Cedrick A.

***

I have found LifeRing to be a major tool in helping me keep a positive mentality and for giving me a new hope that recovery is possible. I was never one to dive into recovery and to be looking forward to my future without using alcohol or drugs. Being that AA/NA was my support group then. But now that I found LifeRing this time around I am eager to see what I can do for myself and maintain a sober lifestyle upon my release. I have been attending the Sunday Sunriser meeting here held by Mykel H. and he has encouraged me and inspires me to want to better myself. I will be released soon within the next few weeks so I know I will need the LifeRing support when I get out and would like some advice from you guys on the outside. I am very grateful that LifeRing has made it in these rooms and has reached the addict because people need to know there are other ways to stay clean and sober without AA or NA and I believe that LifeRing will be what works for me.  

Gabriel F.

 

I sat down to a Central European breakfast of buttered bread and sliced peppers with my partner, hung over and wondering how I acted during my latest blackout. She announced that she could not live with me if I behaved like I did the night before. I said that I would try to stop drinking.

12 years earlier I had an alcohol-caused should-have-been fatal car accident which led to PTSD and eventually a drunk tank. New friends that I met in 12 Step meetings in my liberal USA home town gave me a hand back into life. I moved to the Czech Republic and initially went to 12 Step meetings here. Confronted with dogma and students of the bible, I soon dropped out. After three sober years, I decided that with my PTSD cured I could resume drinking. I was shocked to find myself hopelessly on a path to self-destruction. Czech-mate.

I went to a lunchtime 12 Step meeting hours after that breakfast because I desperately wanted to stop drinking. I attended daily weekday meetings while I researched my problem on the internet. I also emailed a sober friend from my home town who had helped me before.

In cyberspace, I found self-declared secular support groups for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers associated with 12 Step programs. Every such resource I explored ended up with my feeling ambushed by religion.

I finally Googled key words which led to lifering.org. As a science Ph.D. and atheist, LifeRing’s message that maintaining abstinence does not require religious faith was both rational and reassuring. Reading EMPOWERING Your SOBER Self: The LifeRing Approach to Addiction Recovery and completing the free relapse prevention download gave me a fact-based understanding of my return to addiction and a non-judgmental framework to analyze my five decades of drinking, respectively. This was exactly what I needed: knowledge is my higher power. I implemented my personal recovery plan.

Two months after my last drink I adopted LSRSafe as my sole support for my now thirteen months of abstinence. LSRSafe is a warm environment in which advice and encouragement are offered without an our-way-or-the-highway attitude. I can post or just browse depending on my evolving recovery needs. As an overseas American, I am grateful for the worldwide reach of LifeRing’s online support network which I log into every morning.

 

From the moment of my first drunk at the age of 40, I knew I was in the grip of something I could not control.  The story of my descent is not a sterile one.  Indeed, I don’t think anyone’s addiction story is ever anything other than a degrading tale of perceived inability to take positive action.

I came to my Day One following a devastating blackout that finally got my attention.  In order to benefit from a program I have to believe in its precepts.  I walked into my first AA meeting with an open mind and great hope only to quickly discover that the group was too far removed from my core beliefs to be of benefit.

Horror at the realization of how far I had let alcohol take me empowered me to remain abstinent for 100 days.  Knowing I needed some helpful guidance to be able to hang on any longer, I began a desperate online search for 12 Step alternatives.  I persisted until I found a group called LifeRing Secular Recovery.  The name appealed to me.  I joined one of the email lists and from the start knew I was home.  The people on the list presented me with a sane, logical, no-nonsense,  no-excuses brand of sobriety.  They clearly communicated the facts of sober life and convinced me that I possessed the resources to live a life of permanent freedom from alcohol.

My last drink was on January 13, 2004 and it is no exaggeration to say that without LifeRing I’d still be drinking today.  I have no words to express the depth of my gratitude.

 

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