Table of Contents

Foreword by William L. White



My Story
I Get the Wake-up Call
Beginning Treatment
First Encounters
The LifeRing Philosophy
Some Similarities and Differences with 12-Step
The Majority of Recoveries Happen Outside AA
Calling for Help on the Front Lines
Voices from the Field
AA Retains Five Per Cent of Those Who Approach It
My Client-Side Perspective

(1) A Person Addicted Is A Person In Conflict

The Divided Self
The Divided Self is a Clinical Reality
Addictive Substances Hijack the Brain
The Impact on Our Lives
“A” (Addicted Self) Versus “S” (The Sober Self)
A Radical Simplification
In Conflict Lies Hope

(2) Prepare Your Sober Self For Action

Reinforcing Your Sober Self
Stop Beating Yourself Up
No S is Too Small to Start
Listen For Your Wake-up Call
Motivating Yourself to Start
Addiction is Not A Defect of Character
Every Personality Type is Liable to Become Addicted
The Power of Habit
The Power of Self-Conditioning
Different Styles of Breaking the Habit
Develop your choice muscles

(3) How LifeRing Works

The LifeRing Meeting
Reinforcing Our Sober Selves
Labels Are Optional
How Was Your Week?
An X-Ray of the Meeting Dynamic
The Neurobiological Dimension
Horizontal Synergy
Feedback and Cross-Talk
Mirror Neurons
The Spiritual Dimension

(4) Building A Personal Recovery Program

Why Build a Personal Recovery Program
The Recovery by Choice Workbook
The Nine Work Areas for a Personal Recovery Program
Abstinence, the Common Element in All LifeRing Personal Recovery Programs
Building A Personal Recovery Program on Your Own
The Challenges and Rewards of A Personal Recovery Program
Building A Personal Recovery Program Is Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea
Self Help and Professional Help

(5) About Powerlessness

Choice or Powerlessness
The Augustinian Doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous
The Problems of the Zero Power Doctrine
Augustine Won the Battle but Pelagius Won the War
How the Powerlessness Doctrine Drives Out Newcomers
The First Drink and the Second
Feelings of Powerlessness Lead People to Drink
The 12-Step Gauntlet of Negative Emotions
Powerlessness for Women and Minorities
The Addict Needs To Fight, Not To Surrender

(6) About The Disease Theory Of Alcoholism

The “Medical Business”
Disease as the Hammer to Induce Powerlessness
Enter the Alcohol Industry and Marty Mann
Disease Is the Money Word
AA And the Alcohol Industry
A Political but Not a Scientific Triumph
The “Medical Business” Conquers AA
The Comparison to Tobacco
Drinking and Public Health
Does The Disease Theory Reduce Social Stigma?
The Disease Concept and Abstinence
The Disease Concept and the Supreme Court
Why Physicians Have Trouble with the Disease Concept
Disease Treatment without Doctors
The Perfect Storm That Made the Treatment System
The Cure for the Disease Model

(7) Genetic Headlines Meet Laboratory Realities

Headline Fantasies v. Laboratory Research
Twin Studies
Molecular Studies
Searching For the Alcoholism Gene
Guarded Generalities
A Genetic Trait That Protects Against Alcoholism
The High Risk of Low Responsiveness
The Dangers of Genetic Fatalism
Genetic Fatalism and Eugenics
Alcoholics Are Not a People Apart


Recovery as Liberation
An Invitation to LifeRing

Supplement for the Second Edition

Publications of Interest About Addiction Treatment
The Genomics Revolution
Schuckit’s Low Responsiveness Hypothesis

References For The First Edition

About the Author



  1. Tara Griswold on November 17, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Are your books available in electronic format?

    Thank you.

    • Craig Whalley on November 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Some of our books are available digitally and some aren’t. “Empowering Your Sober Self” and “How Was Your Week” are both available in Kindle editions, with “Empowering Your Sober Self” also available as an audio book. Amazon handles the electronic versions. “Recovery by Choice” is only available as a printed book at this time.
      — Craig W. for LifeRing