Category Archives: Events

On LifeRing’s 2015 Annual Meeting: Hope for the Future

So, here’s the deal. Even though I’ve been involved with LifeRing since the very beginning of my sobriety in the Fall of 2007, this is the first year I’ve attended its Annual Meeting and Congress. Not because I haven’t wanted to go of course, but because, well, hanging out in enclosed spaces with a bunch of people I don’t know has never been my forté.

So why go this year, then, as opposed to, say, never?

Some of it has to do with becoming LifeRing’s “blog mistress”, some of it this year’s venue in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah – not only does LifeRing have a fantastic presence there, but I also have family I hadn’t seen in far too long there – and some of it the need for an extended road trip with my hubby and fellow sobrietist Rich from our home in California through some of the Southwest’s gorgeous canyonlands on our way to and from SLC.

But I digress. This is my take and report on the conference, and here’s the real deal, Holyfield:

Recovery in America is changing, my friends, and all for the better as far as I’m concerned.

Friday afternoon consisted of checking out the Meeting venue and greeting some of our fellow attendees. Mahala Kephart, LifeRing Board Member and one of the main reasons we have the presence in Salt Lake that we do, was this year’s event planner and coordinator extraordinaire, and from the moment she greeted us as we walked in the door of the Marriott Library on the University of Utah’s lovely campus, I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

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The LifeRing Annual Meeting was held at the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library on the campus of the University Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan

The bulk of the meeting was held in the Gould Auditorium inside the Library, an open, airy, well-lit and yet still intimate-feeling space. The Friday afternoon Meet and Greet was a casual, low-key affair that actually made it a pleasure to meet some of our fellow attendees, many of whom like us had also traveled from afar, such as LifeRing Colorado‘s delightful Kathleen Gargan.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left. Photo courtesy of Tim Reith

On Saturday morning we arrived in time to hear Kevin McCauley, M.D. from The Institute for Addiction Study speak about his personal experience as an addict as well as his professional experience in becoming a part of the addiction treatment solution. It was heartening to hear a physician say that more needs to be and can be done to give addicts the best chances possible to get and stay clean, whether it be through using medication like naltrexone to quell drug receptors in the brain or by giving patients a choice in which recovery group to attend, such as…LifeRing!

To say Dr. McCauley’s talk was refreshing would be an understatement, particularly when what I’m used to hearing from pretty much every practitioner involved in the medical community is something akin to what Dr. Drew Pinsky – accepted as the medical “expert” in the field of addiction medicine – has to say about the necessity of the 12 Steps in recovery, without which “…recovery is not possible.”

Next was a fascinating and informative talk given by Peter Gaumond, SAMHSA Recovery Branch Chief, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, about building and giving voice to an inclusive and engaged recovery community, including those involved in the “alternative” recovery movement such as LifeRing. He spoke about the significant changes needed to our current drug control policies, such as offering addicts treatment as opposed to mandating prison sentences.

Gaumond also spoke about newly acquired information, such as studies which showed the need for using different language when talking about addicts and addiction. A study they’ve recently done showed that when people are described as having a “substance use disorder” as opposed to being described as “substance abusers” or “drug addicts”, the public’s perception of them – and how they should be treated – was significantly altered. People with a disorder are deserving of and should be given various and sundry treatment. Substance abusers, however, should be thrown in the slammer for as long as it takes to get it through their thick skulls that they should just…say…no.

Très intéressant, no? He also touched on the fact that the U.S.’s new Drug Czar, Michael Botticelli, is himself a person in recovery as opposed to, say, your garden-variety governmental policy wonk.

The final speaker of the morning was our own Martin Nicolaus, J.D., co-founder of LifeRing and author of its principal texts “Empowering Your Sober Self” and the subject of his talk, the “Recovery By Choice” workbook. His demonstration of the dichotomy between the “Addicted self” versus the “Sober self”, and the role the workbook can play in helping one empower their Sober self was enlightening, entertaining, and informative. The talk was a privilege to listen to from the man himself!

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Martin Nicolaus at the podium speaking about how to empower your sober self by using the “Recovery by Choice” workbook. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan.

After a delicious lunch buffet, people not used to early mornings capped off by warm, full bellies such as my husband and I (a coupla night owls who typically arise somewhere around mid-morning and most usually consider a fruit smoothie a complete lunch) felt compelled to skip the early afternoon sessions to go back to our hotel close to University and take a nap.

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Give Big On the 5th of May

Tomorrow is more than just Cinco de Mayo (and Cinco de Mayo is a lot more than just another excuse for Americans to drink, which we like to call “a holiday”), it’s also a Big Day of Giving, which presents all of us here in the States the opportunity to do something really special and important tomorrow:

Beginning at Midnight tonight and running straight through until Midnight tomorrow night, you can donate much needed to funds to any non-profit organization of your choice that would benefit mightily from your charitable contribution to help them succeed in their goals.

LifeRing is certainly one of them – to donate, please click here

Another is an organization a former LifeRing convenor is now the regional outreach director of – the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (SACADA), and tomorrow is “The Big Give”, their annual fundraiser to help support kids and families in their communities to stay drug free. To learn more, please click here.

Any of us would be most grateful to receive your donations, and all of us thank you for your support!

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Kiss My Arse, I’m Irish

~~As posted on our Facebook page today~~

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and a special “Hello” to our friends in Ireland!

In America, this is a wonderful day to celebrate all things Irish as well as our strong Irish heritages – did you know there are more people of Irish descent in the U.S. than there are in Ireland?

But it’s also accepted as a “drinking holiday” in which many, many imbibe with gusto…which can make it a rather difficult day for those of who don’t do that kind of thing anymore.

And you know what? That’s alright – better than alright, in fact! So, if you so choose, find fun AND healthy ways of the wearin’ o’ the green, and try to think of it this way:

 

But That's None of My Business

 

Take Good Care,

:) Bobbi C.

 

 

 

 

Independence Day!

Lady Liberty

Wishing everyone who celebrates America’s independence a safe, healthy, happy, fun, and, most of all, sober holiday! I myself am not only celebrating the 4th of July, but also the fact that as of today, it’s been two years since I smoked my last cigarette, and that is a VERY big deal for me. I was deeply hooked on nicotine (at least as mixed in with all the other crap R.J. Reynolds puts in Camels), as much if not more so than alcohol, and I was damned addicted to that. I started when I was 12, and carried on for the next 28 years unabated. It took a couple of years’ worth of multiple and sundry tries, involving pretty much everything from Chantix to hypnotherapy, before I was finally able to stop; I chose Independence Day in which to do so because freedom from that addiction was my aim and goal, and I can’t begin to tell you how nice it’s been not to have those chains binding me anymore. :)

LifeRing Annual Conference a Big Success

LifeRing Congress 2014 Poster     Concluding yesterday, June 1, the 3-day LifeRing Annual Conference in Santa Rosa, CA, came off without a hitch. Here’s a brief summary of what happened (warning, it relies on the not-always-reliable memory of the author).
     Friday’s event was at the Arlene Francis Center, a funky, warm-hearted facility located on the wrong side of the tracks along with several shelters for homeless people. There, the early arrivals met for socializing and a convenor workshop. The socializing, as always happens at LifeRing gatherings, was lively and very talkative. There was a presentation on a large screen of a number of greetings sent by members or groups of members, both snapshots and brief videos. Despite a few technical glitches, the greetings were very well received and established a precedent that I hope will be continued at future conferences.

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