____ wrote last night about convening LifeRing groups and I thought I’d expand a bit on my own experience.
Being in an active group is, of course, very helpful to long-term sobriety. But it’s easy to sort of lose interest, to find the (totally necessary) repetition of advice to become tedious, to feel that the stories of the newcomers, struggling through early days, don’t relate well to one’s current life, and to drift away.
So I tend to think that working with people experiencing the intense struggles of early days is the best way to insure an ongoing engagement in recovery. Convening gives one just enough responsibility (along with tremendous psychic rewards for playing a “helping” role in the lives of others) to make newcomers a source of real interest and to put the familiar problems in a new light, rather like a teacher facing a new year with the same material but new students. Except the convenor is not a teacher — he/she is mostly an organizer who does the tedious but necessary things to make the group possible. Or at least that’s the LifeRing theory — inevitably, though, the convenor also becomes something of a role model, which can reduce his/her ability to seek support but greatly add incentive to staying on the recovery path.
The actual organizing of a face-to-face group is not exactly difficult, but it can be frustrating. Finding a place for free or very cheap is sometimes tough; figuring out how to connect with appropriate potential members, and keeping the discussions on track. And it is an obligation, so you have to show up at every meeting, or arrange for someone to fill in who won’t cause problems.
But the rewards can be enormous. You can’t drift away; you can’t “forget” that you have a problem; you witness the pain that drinking causes close-up and with people you grow to love. It does place recovery near the top of one’s life’s activities, but it doesn’t preclude having other activities. And, if you’re as lucky as I’ve been, the people you deal with are incredibly easy to love and care about. It’s a great cure for the isolation that so many of us face after years of drinking/using. The only requirement we set is to have at least six months of sobriety (there’s enough stress involved in starting a group, that we don’t recommend it for people in their early days, even though that’s when enthusiasm is often very high) and a willingness to use the LifeRing approach. We try to offer as much help as we can as an organization, but most of the burden will fall on the new convenor. All I can say is: it’s worth it. VERY worth it.