Category Archives: Information

Hazle Settlement A Victory For Secular Recovery

The following piece is submitted by long-time and very active LifeRing Member Byron Kerr, discussing a landmark case won by Barry Hazle, Jr. against the State of California which is also a victory for secular recovery for all who want it in California.

For more information, please reference the San Francisco Chronicle’s article about the case here.

All of us here at LifeRing extend our sincere gratitude to Mr. Hazle for his incredible tenacity and best wishes in his ongoing recovery – thank you Barry!


In 2007, Barry Hazle, Jr. of Shasta County, CA was charged with a drug offense in Shasta County Superior Court of California. Mr. Hazle pled no contest to the charges and received a sentence of one year in state prison.

After serving one year in prison Barry Hazle was released on parole. A condition of his parole was that he attend a ninety-day, residential drug treatment program. Barry Hazle immediately said that he was willing to undergo drug treatment, but specifically desired a secular approach to treatment.

Westcare, Inc., the state contractor that was enlisted to procure a treatment facility for Mr. Hazle ignored his request for secular treatment and placed him in Empire Recovery Center that used 12-Step facilitation exclusively. Mr. Hazle objected immediately to both Westcare and his parole officer, a Mr. Crofoot. Barry Hazle was told that he must participate in the 12-Step program or risk charges of parole violation.

Barry Hazle was expelled from the treatment program at Empire Recovery for being, “disruptive, though in a congenial way” according to court records of Empire staff testimony. Mr. Crofoot arrested Barry Hazle on charges of parole violation and forced Mr. Hazle back to state prison for an additional 100 days.

Barry Hazle filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for eastern California, claiming violation of his constitutional rights under the First Amendment.

In the mean time, Mr. Hazle’s original criminal conviction was thrown out and the original conviction no longer stands.

John Heller was the lead attorney in the federal lawsuit and was one of the featured speakers at our 2014 LifeRing Conference in Santa Rosa, May 31, 2014. Marty Nicolaus introduced Mr. Heller. One of the high points of the entire conference was when John Heller introduced Barry Hazle to the LifeRing audience. Mr. Hazle received a very welcoming ovation from the LifeRing crowd.
At the time of the LifeRing Conference, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had already ruled that the case must be re-tried and that compensatory damages were mandatory. Other issues surrounding the State of California and Westcare, Inc. were also ordered re-tried due to improper instructions given to the original jury.

The final settlement, reached on October 14, 2014, was reached without a full re-trial. It was apparently reached by way of a settlement conference. While the $1,950,000 settlement is significant, the victory for choice of recovery support is the most important aspect of this settlement. The fact that the State of California is paying half and a private company is paying half is also important.

Barry Hazle has stated that he intends to remain active in the recovery community. He has also stated a desire to build a home in the mountains. His bravery and courage in standing up for his rights certainly entitles him to a home in the mountains.

Addiction Recovery and Creating New Neural Pathways

Beauty of a Butterfly


Like a lot of other human endeavors, we delight in the beauty of cleanliness and sobriety but rarely get down to brass tacks and discuss the nuts and bolts of it. One of the largest facets of the addiction paradigm takes place in our minds, and which relies upon destructive mental and emotional constructs built to achieve feeding the addiction at any cost. In many ways, we’re very often completely unaware of these constructs until we take the addictive substance away, in which case they kick into high gear and all we know are the miseries of withdrawal.

Given that both the constructs themselves and the work of breaking them down and building new, healthier ones in their place is largely internal through thought and behavioral processes, a good deal of it literally involves changing your own brain, one neural pathway at a time. And, uh, how does one go about doing that, you ask?

I just ran across an article (see below) I want to share which explains in the simplest of terms the process I and other addicts have used to get from Point A to all points beyond. It all seems and sounds very easy; I can assure you, it’s not. It’s hard, dirty, messy work that takes an enormous amount of energy, dedication, practice and perseverance, and is only one part of the transformation from addict to recovering person. But it’s an absolutely essential part that can make all the difference between success and failure and is worth every bit of effort involved.

I don’t know about you, but I learn by doing, and have come to discover that a great part of life is action – even from the inside out! This is a subject dear to my heart, so please see the article here – and as always, any and all comments are most welcome!




New LifeRing Meeting In Wadsworth, OH!

LifeRing is pleased to announce, in addition to a meeting already running Akron, Ohio (see info. here), that a new meeting also in the Akron area in Wadsworth, Ohio is set to begin next Wednesday, September 17th. Feel free to also check out LifeRing Akron’s fantastic web and Facebook pages listed below, as well.

Meeting Information

The information for the new meeting can be found below; the information for all of LifeRing’s meetings can be found here:

Meeting Name: Wadsworth Akron LifeRing

When: Wednesdays at 1:00 PM, beginning September 17th

Where: Wadsworth Public Library, 132 Broad Street, Wadsworth, OH 44281

Convenor: Cheryl G.

Contact Information: E-Mail: Phone: (234) 200-5770

Web Information:



Congratulations to Cheryl and all future meeting members – we wish you all the best!

September Is National Recovery Month!

National Recovery Month


Thanks to the nice little recovery blog of a young sobrietist I follow, Sober Senorita, I’ve learned that September is National Recovery Month in the U.S., sponsored by SAMHSA – the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out on their website hereand perhaps in the spirit of speaking up and out you might even feel possessed to share your own recovery story there. But if not there…

What about here? I know I’d certainly love to hear your stories no matter where you’re at in the process as I’m sure all of our blog readers would, so please feel free to share them in the Comments below!

Additionally, I will be posting as many recovery-related topics throughout the month as I possibly can, so stay tuned. And…

In the meantime, a little word about my own recovery story: For those who’ve read the first two parts of it (Part One is here and Part Two here) and have been patiently waiting on the third and final installment, please bear with me just a little bit longer. I started out one way and realized I was veering way off course into a completely separate area of discussion (which I will also post at some point down the road), so I had to start over, and am still doing a little fine-tuning.

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m a little OCD about my writing in a way I’m not sure is healthy – it’s my understanding that you’re supposed to just let it all come out, whatever it is, and then go back and mold and edit into a more desirable shape for presentation, but I seem to have the troublesome habit of wanting to edit myself from the word go. It’s one more thing I’m hoping to conquer as time goes by, and yet maintain a standard of posting quality work, so…

What else can I say? The blog and I: We’re a Work in Progress.™ :D

P.S. The Books page is also coming along nicely, and should be up in the next coupla weeks – will let you know when it is!


The Wolves of Silicon Valley

Keyboard Blur


I had a dream last night that I was at an airport, leaving to go on a week-long vacation (to Italy, of course!)  and was trying to figure out a way to inform you, Faithful Blog Reader, that you wouldn’t be seeing any  new posts while I was gone, and upon waking, I decided that this is my sub-conscious’ way of letting me  know:

 A). That the blog has become so important to me I’m now dreaming about it, and

2). That it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new (or perhaps, just anything interesting :-P ), and I’d better get on it!

So today, I return to a topic that’s already been covered here but which continues to fascinate me in the way that it grows in ever-surprising, ever-disturbing, and seemingly unlikely ways.

Such as: How college-educated, mostly white, often male, middle to upper middle class, young-to-middle-aged urban professional, casual drug users – i.e. people who “should know better” – graduate from using a little of this or a little of that to help them keep up with their overwhelming workloads or wind down from them into abusing harder, cheaper, and illegal drugs, and often in seemingly innocuous milieus…such as the IT-laden land of tech industry behemoths running their shows in Silicon Valley, California.

In other words, this is not your father’s heroin addict.

A most recent case in point – the Google executive, a married father of five children who brought a “high-class” call girl aboard his yacht in Santa Cruz, CA for a little afternoon delight and ended up injected with a lethal dose of heroin and left to die alone  – wasn’t an anomaly, according this this article featured in San Jose Mercury News (which, I’m happy to note, also contains a quote from an interview with LifeRing’s own Byron Kerr).

It’s apparently just one among the many potential fates waiting to befall his peers coping with high-stress, high-income careers in the IT industry, where the supply-and-demand ratio means one can barely keep one’s head above water on a good day without a pharmaceutical booster (or 12). It reminds me a great deal of the stockbrokers working in Jordan Belfort’s 80’s shady stocks firm as depicted in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Anyone unfortunate enough to have seen the movie (what can I say? I love Scorsese, just not this time) likely knows what I’m getting at. I can just imagine the same non-stop, debauched hookers and blowfest as depicted in “Wolf…” going on behind the closed doors of every tech company in the Valley, from the start-ups to the giants (Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. etc. etc.), and beyond, where it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure! And everyone’s in on it.

Talk about a weird, scary new facet in American life. Is this really what it takes to make it in the tech industry, or is it just another, updated permutation of the drug culture tinged with hysteria and “Wolf”-like hyperbole?

One gets the sense from the Mercury News article’s comments section it’s long been the former becoming newly hyped by as the latter, and the utter lack of compassion I’ve seen from commenters across the board on multiple web stories about the deceased Google executive, which amounts to “he chose to take the heroin, therefore he chose to die, and good riddance to bad rubbish”, leaves me feeling defeated and cold.

Whatever the hell is going on, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself particularly reassured, after all the years we’ve been talking about drugs, alcohol and addiction, this distorted perception that it’s all just a “choice” is as far as we’ve gotten.

And on that light and airy note, I wish you all a happy, healthy and good day, and would love to hear some feedback from any of you who have any thoughts about any of this, as well!