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Category Archives: Information

Second Edition of “Empowering Your Sober Self” Now Available!

Hey Everyone! We at LifeRing are pleased to announce that a new, Second Edition of “Empowering Your Sober Self” by our co-founder Martin Nicolaus is now available! Please see below for reviews, information about the author, and links to get your own copy:


front cover 2nd edition

Empowering Your Sober Self

The LifeRing Approach to Addiction Recovery

Second edition — with a new supplement by the author

The one book to read for an introduction to LifeRing.  Written for the person who wants to get free of alcohol/drugs, for their friends and relations, and for the professionals who treat them.

“A sophisticated, insightful, well-documented view of the philosophy and practice that are at the heart of the LifeRing approach. This book offers a perspective on recovery that can motivate change in clinicians and researchers as well as among individuals struggling to find their sober selves.”
—Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and author, Addiction and Change

“With impressive analytical clarity and therapeutic generosity, Nicolaus presents a well-argued brief for understanding the complexities of addiction treatment and accepting the full range of diverse paths to recovery. . . . [Anyone] wanting insight and balance on a vitally important public health issue will appreciate the author’s lively and respectful presentation.”
—Judith Herman, M.D., author, Trauma and Recovery

By Martin Nicolaus, cofounder of LifeRing Secular Recovery. He is an attorney in private practice who lives in Berkeley, California.

Empower Your Sober Self is available exclusively online from  the LifeRing bookstore , or from your local LifeRing meeting.   (You can order it via, but because Amazon forwards all orders to us for fulfillment, it’s faster and easier to order from LifeRing directly.)  Click “Add to Bag” to order a copy using your Visa/MasterCard or PayPal account.

Empower Your Sober Self, 277 pp. 9″ x 6″, stay-flat binding. ISBN 978-0-9659429-6-6. Second edition, 2014. US$20.00 + S/H.


Many congratulations and, as always, our deepest thanks to Marty! Without you, we’d be nothing! 🙂

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.™ 😀

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!