FAQs

  • What is LifeRing?

    LifeRing is a network of support groups for people who want to live free of alcohol and other addictive drugs.

  • How does LifeRing work?

    LifeRing works through positive social reinforcement. The meeting process empowers the Sober Self within each of us.

  • What is the LifeRing program?

    The hallmark of a quality treatment program is to match the treatment to the individual. We adopt that same approach in our self-help work. We encourage each participant to work out their own particular path and to use the group process as a workshop for that purpose. We publish a workbook, “Recovery by Choice,” as a tool for building one’s Personal Recovery Program.

  • What is the LifeRing meeting format?

    Formats vary, but at most meetings the topic is “How Was Your Week?” Each person reports on the highlights and heartaches of their past week and plans ahead for the decisions of the coming week. Conversation (“cross-talk”) is encouraged. Personal drinking/drugging histories (“drunkalogues”) are discouraged. The meeting ends with a round of applause to one another for staying clean and sober.

  • Where can I find out more information about LifeRing?

    This website is a good place to start. For further reading, go to the LifeRing Press bookstore. For a fast response, check out the online connections. To contact LifeRing email service@lifering.org or phone 1-800-811-4142.

  • Is LifeRing affiliated with another organization, or is it a subsidiary of something else?

    No. LifeRing is an independent, free-standing organization, not affiliated with any other.

  • How is LifeRing financed?

    LifeRing is a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) charitable status. LifeRing is supported by passing the basket at meetings, sales of LifeRing Press literature, and individual donations.

  • Who runs LifeRing?

    Each LifeRing meeting (in-person and online) can elect one delegate to participate in the annual LifeRing Congress. The Congress elects the Board of Directors, and the Board appoints the officers. For details, see the LifeRing Bylaws, available from LifeRing Press.

  • How come I’ve never heard of LifeRing before?

    We’re new. LifeRing was founded as a national organization in 2001. The LifeRing story is just getting out.

  • How successful is LifeRing?

    LifeRing is successful for people who find this approach a good fit. If you would like to meet such people, come to a LifeRing meeting. If you are a social scientist and would like to conduct an outcomes study, we would be happy to cooperate.

  • Can friends and loved ones of alcoholics/addicts attend LifeRing?

    Yes, provided they are clean and sober at the time of the meeting. A separate LifeRing Partners organization is planned.

  • Is LifeRing a 12-step program?

    No. LifeRing is not a spinoff from AA. LifeRing uses a different approach from the 12-step model. See “How it works.”

  • If I attend LifeRing, can I also go to AA/NA?

    Of course.

  • Is LifeRing a treatment program?

    No. LifeRing is a network of support groups. We cooperate with many treatment programs but our group leaders (“convenors”) as a rule are ordinary persons in recovery. Most groups meet about an hour each week.

  • Does LifeRing have sponsors?

    Sponsors in 12-step programs play two main roles: they guide the newcomer through the 12 Step Program and they are available for support between meetings. In LifeRing we each work out personal programs, so there is no real role for a Program guide. We do very much value supportive contacts between meetings, and we circulate phone and email lists at meetings for that purpose. In that sense, all the participants in a meeting sponsor one another.

  • Do I have to call myself an “alcoholic” or “addict” in LifeRing?

    No. Some do, some don’t. The effort to stop drinking and using drugs is required. The self-defining labels and the theories behind them are optional.

  • What about smoking?

    Our meetings are non-smoking. We do not require people to quit smoking in order to participate in our groups, but we provide encouragement, education and support for quitting whenever the person feels ready.

  • Are the meetings confidential?

    We value confidentiality and protect our members’ anonymity, but we permit members to disclose their own participation if they feel that being open will strengthen their recovery.

  • Is LifeRing only for alcoholics?

    We see alcoholism and drug addiction as basically identical and we welcome people into our meetings regardless of their “drug of choice.”

  • Is LifeRing mainly for atheists or agnostics?

    No. About 40 per cent of LifeRing participants attend church (or other place of worship) at least once a year. Since the LifeRing recovery process does not rely on a “higher power” or similar concepts, LifeRing participants’ religious and/or spiritual beliefs remain private and don’t become an issue in the meeting. Neither religious proselytizing nor attacks on religion are permitted in our meetings.

  • Does LifeRing cost anything?

    No. A basket is usually passed for voluntary contributions to defray expenses, but there is no charge to participate.

  • How is LifeRing similar to AA or NA?

    We are abstinence-based. We use group support. Meetings are confidential.

  • How is LifeRing different from AA/NA?

    We see the power to get clean and sober inside of each person (the “sober self”). You can get clean and sober regardless of your belief or disbelief in a ‘higher power.’ We welcome people regardless of their ‘drug of choice.’ We encourage cross-talk in meetings. We each build Personal Recovery Programs tailored to our individual makeup.

26 Comments

  1. John on March 21, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    Can’t tell you how happy I am to have found a secular support group. Looking forward to my first meeting tomorrow morning. Thank you for establishing LifeRing meetings.



  2. Nilda on December 6, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I am interested in starting an alternative group to AA in a remote area of Texas. I am concerned about crosstalk in meetings, however. Can you explain the benefit of crosstalk in the recovery context? I have found crosstalk to be counter to recovery as it enables dominant personalities to prey on those who are more subdued.



    • Craig Whalley on December 6, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Nilda,
      Crosstalk is the heart of LifeRing It’s the interaction between members that, we feel, provides the knowledge and support recovery calls for. It’s true that things can go wrong when someone misuses crosstalk for their own purposes. It’s the meeting convenors job to keep things on track. We feel it’s worth the risk because we want members to both be able to speak freely and to receive the sort of support that can only come from others who’ve experienced the same or similar events. I’ll write you an email to give you further information.
      — Craig W.



  3. Coleen Travers LCSW on August 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I love being able to tell my patients (I work in a primary care clinic in the Bay Area) about Life Ring. I am writing to ask if the meetings are welcoming towards individuals whose addiction problems are with eating (particularly overeating/binging patterns). Having a secular option in this area of recovery would be SO wonderful.

    Thanks,
    Coleen



    • Craig Whalley on August 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      Coleen,
      Thanks for helping spread the word about LifeRing! As a general policy, LifeRing keeps its focus on substance abuse. It’s clear that other “addictions” (food and gambling, for instance) have some or all of the same dynamics at play and can benefit from a similar approach. But for now, trying to nurture and grow our sobriety support meetings takes all of our (volunteer) energies. Individual meetings and their convenors, however, are free to decide how to respond to requests for participation by those with other issues. Of course, anybody is free to attend any open meeting of LifeRing. But you can see the problem if someone with food issues has no problems with alcohol or other drugs. LifeRing wants its members to be abstinent from all types of non-medically-indicated drugs — that’s a central tenant of our organization. Still, it’s up to the group. On our website meeting list there is contact information for most or all of our Bay Area convenors. You or your clients could sound them out as to their comfort level for having members with non-substance addictions.
      –Craig W.



  4. Carol on June 20, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Is there a support group for family members of alcoholics? I live in Benicia, Ca



    • Craig Whalley on June 21, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Carol,
      LifeRing isn’t yet big enough to be able to attract a viable number of ‘loved ones’ for a separate meeting. Partners are welcome at regular meetings, but there are no stand-alone meetings comparable to Al-Anon where loved ones can meet together separately from those in addiction recovery. We’d love to see such meetings, but our emphasis for growth is to bring about more meetings for addicts.
      — Craig W. for LifeRing



      • Rob on July 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm

        I’m a recovery coach in Houston. If there are people in the area looking to start a meeting, I’d be interested in participating. I consider myself an atheist and a go to AA mostly for the friends I’ve made and the common cause of staying sober together. I’ve attended two SMART Recovery meetings. I started an atheist AA meeting and there are 3 other secular AA meetings I know of in the Houston area. As I’ve never been to a Lifering meeting I would not know how to set one up. Again if other people in this area have shown interest I’d like to get in touch. 12.5 years clean and sober.



        • Craig Whalley on July 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm

          I’ll be in touch with an email, Rob.
          — Craig W. from LifeRing



          • Tonya on August 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm

            Hi, I’m in Houston and would be interested in attending a LifeRing mtg here if one was available.



          • Craig Whalley on August 15, 2017 at 4:22 pm

            Tonya,
            I’ll send you an email with some info. so you can contact Rob, who is looking into starting a meeting there in Houston.
            — Craig W.



  5. Jeff on January 24, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Hi,
    Looks like there are several online options, so could we communicate by email to help me figure out which would be the best option and how to get started?
    Thanks,
    Jeff



    • Craig Whalley on January 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

      I’ll be in touch, Jeff, with more information.



  6. carlos villarreal on October 21, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Thank you guys !



  7. TJ Henry on October 15, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Chad,

    I have been researching your organization and an so excited to get involved. I am an RN with a history of creating, writing and implementing a chemical depency 88 bed free standing hospital before it was even built. Took it through accreditation upon opening and ran as Director of Nursing. All before I ever had a drink. My first drink occurred on my 30th birthday.

    I give you this information today because I would very much love to start a chapter here in Santa Cruz County as I do not see one located here. Santa Cruz is a county full of addicts, alcoholics or those in recovery. Recovery is a huge part of this county, however, many cannot seem to connect in AA, NA, or any A ….. I am so sure many of these individuals would embrace another venue. I also have several county social workers willing to follow and accept another successful program as an alternative to their clients who seem unable to connect in AA or NA.

    Could you chat with me about the process of doing this? My cell number is 831-332-1976. Or email is good as well. I so lol forward to chatting with you.

    Warmly,

    TJ Henry, RN, MPS



    • Craig Whalley on October 15, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      TJ,
      I’ll drop you an email ASAP!
      Craig W.



  8. Pam on September 26, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Is your meeting list current? I live in the Columbus, Ohio area and do not see any meetings other than Akron.



    • Craig Whalley on September 26, 2016 at 6:53 am

      Pam,
      The meeting list on the website is, to the best of our abilities, accurate. Our Akron meeting is, currently, the only one in Ohio. I’ll send you an email to discuss our online options.
      Craig W.
      LifeRing



      • Katie on April 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        I am in Columbus too and am interested in checking out a meeting.



        • Craig Whalley on April 18, 2017 at 7:07 am

          I’ll be in touch with information about our online options, Katie.



  9. Chad on August 24, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I would like to attend lifeRing in the Roseville area, please let me know how to get started.



    • Craig Whalley on August 24, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Chad,
      I’ll send you an email, basically telling you to just show up — all are welcome at a LifeRing meeting!
      Craig W.



  10. eva tait on August 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    i live in solano county are there any life ring meetings i can attend close by. i don’t drive very much



    • Craig Whalley on August 9, 2016 at 5:40 am

      Eva,
      There are meetings in your area. I’ll send you a list by email.
      Craig W.



  11. Matt on July 14, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I was overjoyed to learn about your secular program for self-directed recovery with an emphasis on individual strengths, empowerment and resilience. I look forward to learning more about LifeRing Recovery and becoming an active member. Thank you for providing a significant alternative to the long-standing, backhanded religion oriented dogmas of AA and NA.
    Bravo!



    • Craig Whalley on July 14, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Matt,
      I’ll be in touch tomorrow by email to talk to you.
      — Craig W. for LifeRing