A View on LifeRing’s “Structure”

LifeRing member Byron Kerr shares some thoughts on LifeRing’s approach to providing structure in recovery:

I recently heard a proposal in a LifeRing forum that, “some people just need the structure of 12-Step.” This reflects an assumption that LifeRing is somehow unstructured. While it is true that we do not offer a single “official” structure as to how an individual must achieve sobriety, the LifeRing approach is not unstructured. It is personally structured.

A user/drinker will not succeed in LifeRing without crafting their own structure. We call it your “Personal Recovery Plan.” Your PRP is your best hope for success. Your PRP should be detailed, specific, and well thought out. All persons that succeed in recovery use structure. We simply propose that when you compose your own structure, you will be automatically more invested in your own recovery. If you only read a script and put none of your own effort into your structure, the odds of your success may be diminished.

Can people in recovery benefit from suggestions and guidance? Certainly. We provide those things as a fundamental part of all of our support efforts. We offer ideas from personal experience but stop short of specific, “you should………” type advice.

LifeRing can work for anyone. The notion that there are some people who can only benefit from the “structure” of other support programs is not considering the fact that LifeRing is very much a structured approach. It only works with structure. That’s what we mean by “self-empowerment.”

— Byron Kerr


  1. Chris on October 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Life Ring is not a true alternative to AA’s 12 Step Program. At present it’s meetings are essentially an alternative source for support. A true alternative “program” to AA ‘s 12 steps might better be described by SMART recovery’s four-point program that includes tools such as REBT, USA and DISARM.

    However, what Life Ring promotes is the idea of developing a personal recovery plan that is unique to the individual. This all sounds wonderful at first glance – a personal recovery plan tailored to the individual. However, with little to no structure and no formal program or process to do this, Life Ring lacks the substance of both AA and SMART Recovery. Indeed many “newcomers” may be be left scratching their heads at what people at Life Ring actually do to empower their sober selves and recover.

    Therefore, Life Ring might be wise to look not at promoting a formal program, which can quickly become mired in the exact type of dogma that many recovering people are trying to avoid, but instead encouraging the sharing by members of their experience, both past and present, with addiction and recovery, including their personal recovery plans. All too often, this is the exception at on-line and face to face meetings, which are essentially amateur-led group therapy sessions.