Category Archives: Information

The Role of Abstinence in Treating Addiction

LifeRing believes strongly that abstinence from all alcohol and other non-medically indicated drugs is the only acceptable goal once addiction has occurred. All of our members accept that as the goal of our approach, and many of our members have years of successful abstinence to point to along with a vastly improved quality of life. I’m one of those and I completely endorse the abstinence approach – I’m convinced that even one drink could lead to a resumption of my addicted life.

But there are other points of view. Phillip H., a LifeRing Convenor of long standing in Northern Ireland, recently shared an article that takes a slightly different view. The article is very much worth reading for it’s clear and compelling view of the problems created by a focus on “moral failing” in treatment programs based on the 12-Step program and the so-called Minnesota Model still very widely used in the professional treatment system. Throughout the article the author takes a caustic view of an emphasis on total abstinence, although it appears by the end of the lengthy article that his position is one of viewing zero-tolerance policies in treatment facilities as punitive and counter-productive. “Discharging an alcoholic for relapsing” he suggests, “is like discharging a schizophrenic for relapsing: it is not a reason for discharge but a reason to work with the client.”

This compassionate view of relapse is very much what LifeRing tries to practice. We view relapse as a setback, not some sort of moral failing. A favorite image I’ve heard in LifeRing meetings is that “if you’re driving from New York to Seattle and your car has a problem in Chicago, you don’t have to start the trip over in New York if you can fix the car in Chicago.”

The author of the article goes on to suggest that, for some people, continued but reduced use of drugs can lead to an improved life. On this point, LifeRing parts company – too often, “harm reduction” leads eventually to a resumption of full-blown addictive usage. It’s not worth the gamble.

But the article – see it Here – has much to offer.

— Craig Whalley

Searching For Obamacare

The following is Part 1 in a series of posts regarding one slightly middle-aged, uninsured gal’s search for affordable, quality health care coverage in the age of Obamacare.

In spite of the current battle in Washington, where the immediate toll for Congress’s feckless legislative filibustering will injure all but those who’ve waged it (their toll, depending on who “wins” in this latest of fiscal folderols, comes due only in the next election cycle and not a minute sooner – and for some, not even then), I have decided to simply pretend like it’s not happening and go ahead and try to sign up for Obamacare anyway, because this law was made for you and me.

Really, it was! You see, in spite of being a good patient with a history of alcoholism (emphasis on the word history) managing my diabetes fairly well, I nevertheless belong squarely in the “Pre-Existing Condition” category of patient, and therefore (in the great state of California, at least), just by those very facts am rendered what’s lovingly known by insurers everywhere as “uninsurable”. Obamacare is supposed to render that point moot – now they have to cover me anyway. HA!

And yet, I still find myself skeptical as to whether it can actually come to pass. Even though October 1 was the day for everyone who needs coverage to begin shopping via what are being called “Exchanges” (which are, essentially, health insurance carrier marketplaces where one finds a plan that will work for them based on their healthcare and financial needs in exchange for coverage. Handy, no?), I still wonder if any of it’s actually possible, let alone actually going to happen.

See, in addition to various and sundry glitches  in the sign-up process reported throughout the week, there’s also been rumor and rumors of rumors that, in order to avoid covering folks like me, a lot of carriers have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and simply opted out of the private insurance racket altogether, so…I don’t even know what companies are still left to choose from.

And I wonder how much of my past and current medical history, supposedly rendered moot, will still come back to bite me in the pocketbook: OK, so, they can’t hold my alcoholism, diabetes or any other of my multiple and sundry diseases/disorders/conditions/skin tags against me coverage-wise. Sweet! But…will they make up for it by gouging me good and plenty where it counts?

Then there’s the small matter of figuring out who “they” are. …. Read More

Read more ...

LifeRing Member Survey

If you are or have been involved with LifeRing, even just recently, we’d like to have you answer some questions in a Survey we’re doing. The answers you give won’t be identifable as yours; the purpose is to help us plan for the future growth of LifeRing. We want to find out what works and what doesn’t along with some general information about our membership (again, in general, not anything traceable to you as an individual). The survey is important to us and we need to get as many responses from members as possible. (A LifeRing “member” is anyone who participates by attending, or having attended in the past, meetings in-person or online.) You’ll find the survey by going here: Thanks for your help!

— Craig Whalley, Chairman of the Board


LifeRing website to be down for maintenance

Update: Oops, forgot to mention that the times shown are Pacific Daylight Time.

The server for LifeRing’s website will be down for maintenance from about 11 p.m. July 31 until about 3 a.m. Aug 1.

LifeRing Office Impacted by Transit Strike

The strike by workers at BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is making it difficult for LifeRing staff to get to the Service Center office, so it’s more important than ever to call before dropping by. If the strike spreads from trains to buses, the office will likely be closed completely for the duration.