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Category Archives: Toolbox

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! 🙂

Food For Thought On a Monday in Early Summer…

Change Buckminster Fuller Quote









Naltrexone cousin gets OK in UK for alcoholism

Nalmefene, known commercially as Revex, has been approved in Britain to help problem drinkers by reducing their desire for alcohol.

A clinical trial into the drug helped patients cut the amount they consumed from 12.75 units a day to five units a day – a 61 per cent reduction. And patients who underwent counselling as well as taking the drug reduced their “heavy drinking days” from 23 days a month to nine days a month after undergoing the treatment for six months, researchers said.

Nalmefene is touted as having a longer half-life than naltrexone and less effect on the liver, per the first link.

While the study didn’t focus on people wanting to quit drinking, it seems this is an obvious use for it.

Sounds like a good addition to the toolbox. That said, per the first link, I do not know why it is not available in the US if it has some superiority to naltrexone.

Does your brain know if you’re likely to relapse?

Some interesting research funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says yes.

Using brain scans, researchers found that people in recovery from alcoholism who showed hyperactivity in areas of the prefrontal cortex during a relaxing scenario were eight times as likely to relapse as those showing normal brain patterns or healthy controls.

The prefrontal brain plays a role in regulating emotion, the ability to suppress urges, and decision-making. Chronic drinking may damage regions involved in self-control, affecting the ability to regulate cravings and resist relapse.

It certainly sounds sensical. That said, it will be a long time before rehabs, let alone general medical clinics, are offering fMRI scans to people in early recovery to check this.

But, we can take away from this that the idea of “triggers” is a real concern, if long-term drinking has affected those regulatory abilities.

And, the difference is significant:

The investigators found that individuals in recovery who showed patterns of heightened activity in the prefrontal region during the relaxing situation were much more likely to experience cravings for alcohol and subsequent relapse. These patterns of craving-related activity increased the likelihood of early relapse by 8.5 times and relapse to heavy drinking by 8.7 times. Abnormally low activity during the stressful scenario was also linked to greater number of days drinking after relapse.

So, while we’re far from the point of offering fMRIs, it seems like the need is there.

Meanwhile, keeping that idea of “triggers” handy sounds good.

New Article From Main Speaker at 2010 LifeRing Annual Meeting

Candice Shelby, Ph.D., who gave a much-talked-about and much-appreciated presentation at the LifeRing Annual Meeting last June in Denver, has written an essay that I am very pleased to publish here for the first time. The essay is titled “Addicts are NOT Powerless — the Trick is Knowing Where the Power Is.” The essay explores the role of the mind in recovery from addiction and draws on Dr. Shelby’s studies in neurobiology and the nature of the mind.

Dr. Shelby’s piece focuses on the importance, in recovery, of the role played by the unconscious — but trainable — parts of our mental processes.  Click here to see the article.

Dr. Shelby, an associate professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver campus, earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University. She served as Chair of the UC Philosophy Dept. for three years and has, in recent years, studied intensively the Philosophy of the Mind. She is currently at work on a book examining addiction from physical and psychological standpoints, focusing in particular on semantic elements in addiction and recovery.