Category Archives: Media

LifeRing Recognized in Professional Journal

Martin Nicolaus, LifeRing’s founding leader and author of our three LifeRing books, passes along this mention of LifeRing in a recent article co-authored by the widely-respected writer on addiction William L. White. John Kelly was the other author and the passage appeared in the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery under the title “Broadening the Base of Addiction Mutual-Help Organizations.” Here’s what they said about us:

LifeRing for Secular Sobriety [actually, LifeRing Secular Recovery] is a cognitive-behaviorally oriented support group that emphasizes a tradition of positive psychology rather than spirituality or religious ideas. Founded in 2001, it has grown to about 140 [more than 170 as of now] face-to- face meetings as well as online meetings with about 1,000 participants [at any given time]. It has already begun surveys of its membership (sample responded = 401) indicating 58% were male, the average age was 47.8 years old, more than 80% had attended some college, and 44% had a bachelors degree. The average length of sobriety was 2.74 years. In the past year, 40% reported attending a religious service of some kind. In keeping with LifeRing’s goal of targeting any kind of substance dependence, survey respondents’ primary substances covered a full range of substances of misuse including tobacco. [a recently completed new survey will update these results, but probably won’t change them radically]

The LifeRing approach centers on empowerment of the “sober self” characterized by three major components: recognition, activation, and mastery. Recognition emphasizes insight and empowerment by realizing that the “sober self” is a part of who individuals are and has helped them access help and get to this point in their lives. Activation is about living in sobriety and facing the challenges of recovery, which is discussed in group meetings. Mastery is supported through empowering individual members to develop their own “Personal Recovery Program” (PRP). Individuals’ PRPs can be allowed to occur naturally as things progress, or more strategically by working through the organization’s Recovery by Choice workbook. This facilitates the formation of the PRP across nine different recovery-related domains.

The LifeRing approach is essentially a grassroots experientially based mutual-help group but is informed by the latest treatment and recovery research. Consequently, it incorporates ideas from cognitive-behavioral, motivational, humanistic, existential, and positive psychology areas. No studies have been conducted on LifeRing, but its continued expansion is evidence of its value to many individuals suffering a variety of substance addiction problems. Future research should focus on which individuals may be likely to engage with the organization and on its effectiveness in helping individuals maintain recovery.

Isolation’s role in addiction, graphically illustrated

This graphic comic by Stuart McMillan illustrates how early studies on lab rats and addiction went long by not looking at isolation and social settings.

McMillan talks here about what went into the creation of this comic:

The Rat Park researchers were originally united in their view that the 1950s/60s experiments had design flaws which undermined their usefulness as ‘proof’ for addictive drugs. However, the team was divided with predictions about what would happen to the colony rats if given free access to opiates. …

Also worth reading is Bruce Alexander’s Adult, Infant, and Animal Addiction (1985). Written after some of the dust had settled (including the Rat Park funding running out), the article describes the other experiments which were conducted in Rat Park, and by other similar animal drug experiments around the world. It mentions times where the results of the original, famous experiments were not repeated. …

It is clear that scientific accuracy is important to Bruce, and that he is not simply promoting Rat Park for personal glory. He recognises that the Rat Park experiments do not necessarily ‘prove’ anything regarding human drug addictions. After all, rats are rats, and people are people. Yet he sees the findings of Rat Park as consistent with his larger body of research into human addictions.

Anyway, read away, and view away.

Nothing Like a Little Good Publicty …

Dick Sprague, a LifeRing Convenor in Tabernash (Grand County), CO, provided information for an article in SkyHiNews “serving Winter Park, Granby, and Grand County, CO.” The article can be read in full by clicking Here.

Sprague is mentioned in the article and provided most or all of the information for it. Here’s a sample: “LifeRing seeks to build off other’s experiences to help people create a tailored recovery program, or as Dick Sprague, the man who has been convening the meetings locally and is an advocate for the group, puts it: “It gives you arrows to put in your quiver.”

Sprague went on to say, “All personalities have differences, and different things work for different people …”

The Tabernash meeting is weekly on Thursdays at 7 p.m. at The Church of the Eternal Hills. More details are available at the LifeRing Colorado website.

Sprague can be contacted at

LifeRing Member Pens “Choice of Support” Article in Online Magazine

A member of, and  convenor for, LifeRing has written an article that was published in “Secular News Daily,” an online magazine. The article, entitled  “When it comes to Sobriety, a Choice of Support” was written by Byron Kerr, who has started several LifeRing meetings in the Santa Rosa, CA, area and is now concentrating his efforts near San Jose, CA. The article imagines a drunk driver being dealt with by the justice system and being offered only AA for the support group component of the treatment required as part of his punishment  — something that happens every day in this country. The article goes on to point out that required attendance at a religion-based treatment program is inherently unconstitutional, egregiously so when alternative groups — equally effective, at least — are available. Kerr has wrestled with local governments over this issue in the Sonoma Country area of California. Read the article Here.

A Doctor Who “Gets it” About Offering Choice in Recovery

Recovery by ChoiceA recent article in ASAMagazine, an online publication that bills itself as “The Voice of Addiction Medicine” features words that are music to the ears of those who believe in the need for doctors and treatment professionals to offer real choices to their patients and clients.

“I have seen many of my colleagues view 12-step recovery as the only option to offer their patients,” say the author, Dr. Alan Wartenberg, an internal medicine doctor specializing in addiction treatment, “we do know that many of our patients are resistant to 12-step concepts such as surrender, a belief in the lifetime nature of addiction, and to the importance of spiritual precepts or of a “Higher Power” in recovery.”

“Many non 12-step programs are available,” says Dr. Wartenberg, “… these programs are abstinence-based and may be appropriate for many of our patients who will either not initially attend, or do not remain in 12-step programs.”

Dr. Wartenberg is himself a proponent of AA as the first choice for his patients, but clearly understands that it’s not for everyone. Read the entire article by clicking here