From Junkie to Judge

Image of book cover Junkie to Judge

It is with great excitement that we congratulate Mary Beth O'Connor on the release of her long awaited memoir:  From Junkie to Judge:  One Woman's Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction! Mary Beth O'Connor is a LifeRing BOD member and advocate of multiple paths to recovery.  

Mary Beth O'Connor is a longstanding contributor to the LifeRing Secular Recovery Community. She was first elected to the LifeRing Board  in 2017, and continues to serve in 2023. Mary Beth leads the LifeRing Speakers Bureau and convenes a monthly meeting introducing LifeRing fundamentals to LifeRing Community friends and family. Mary Beth speaks regularly about her personal story, LifeRing, and multiple paths to recovery.

Mary Beth's memoir From Junkie to Judge is written like a novel and immerses the reader in the neglect, abuse, and other traumas that primed Mary Beth for her descent into substance use disorder. She describes her path from alcohol to pot to pills to acid, and then to her drug of choice, methamphetamine. Mary Beth takes the reader into the depths of that addiction and then through her first three years of recovery. As an atheist in a 12-step world, and who was focused on self-empowerment rather than powerlessness, she had to seek out alternate approaches. By synthesizing the concepts she felt would be of value, Mary Beth created a robust foundation for her 29 years of sobriety. She also addresses her efforts to recover from the traumas and resulting anxiety. Professionally, Mary Beth progressed as well, went to law school, and was appointed a federal Administrative Law Judge in 2014. [originally posted on Mary Beth's personal website]

Mary Beth's compelling memoir has inspired a whirlwind schedule of podcasts, interviews, and appearances nationwide. We're happy to report that Mary Beth generously continues to credit LifeRing for our supporting role.

In the article The Astounding Transformation of a Methamphetamine Junkie Turned Federal Judge,  published by The Reporters, Inc., Mary Beth tells interviewer Kim Whiting:

My goal in sharing my story ... is to reassure those struggling that recovery is possible and that their future can be amazing!


Excerpts from From Junkie to Judge:  One Woman's Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction

I achieved ambitions beyond the wildest imagination of my druggie self. I am happily married, and a reliable aunt and sister and friend. I went to law school , becoming an attorney, and then a judge. I also contribute to my community. I am a board member of LifeRing Secular Recovery and She Recovers Foundation, an essayist, and a recovery speaker. This book is part of that work too.

In 2014, twenty years into my sobriety, I zipped up my judge’s robe and looked in the mirror. I smiled at myself, as broadly as my muscles would allow. There was something about my hairstyle that reminded me of my fifth grade picture. Instead of feeling the pain of my younger self, I could see her jumping up and down in excitement. I felt proud. I’d really done it. I’d overcome all of it. This is who I was meant to be.

Mary Beth O'Connors, LifeRing Secular Recovery board member +
Author of From Junkie to Judge: One Woman's Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction


Mary Beth's 336-page memoir is highly-praised by many prominent leaders in secular recovery including LifeRing Secular Recovery co-founder Marty Nicolaus:

Recovery, like Rome, is a destination with many roads. There is an abundance of stories where recovery is laid at the feet of some notion of God. But only a small minority of addicted persons actually walk that pathway. Much larger numbers find recovery elsewhere. Mary Beth O'Connor's memoirs begins to fill the information gap about recovery for people who, like many younger Americans today, check 'none of the above' when it comes to religious affiliation. Starting in her teens, Mary Beth did about all the drugs you can do. She could have been a poster child for the victims of dysfunctional family life. Yet eventually she pulled out of it. She tried 12-steps and found it wanting. She took charge of her own recovery. She achieved no only abstinence but big-R Recovery, overcoming her inner demons, and demonstrating the competence, intelligence, reliability, and socials skills necessary for professional advancement. This is an inspirational story of survival and renewal.


Martin Nicolaus, founder, LifeRing Secular Recovery
Author of Empower Your Sober Self and Recovery by Choice

Long-time comrade in arms Dawn Nickel, co-founder of She Recovers Foundation, provides the Forward to this memory. She writes:

Mary Beth offers up the hard, gritty details of her past in addiction because she understands that sharing our recovery narratives can inspire others to choose recovery too. Our stories have power. Mary Beth shares her story with unflinching honesty, grace, humor and, that most important ingredient for anyone in or seeking recovery, hope. With this book, and through her other efforts, this "junkie" turned judge turned advocate will save lives.

Dawn Nickel, co-founder, She Recovers Foundation
Author of She Recovers Every Day: Daily Meditations for Women in Recovery

I could quote and praise all day, but I prefer to get back to reading Mary Beth's inspiring and moving memoir From Junkie to Judge:  One Woman's Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction: One Woman's Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction and you should, too. Congratulations, Mary Beth!


Dear Readers,

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Thank you for giving so many a chance to find their way to sobriety!



  1. Ginger S on January 26, 2023 at 3:40 pm

    I’m an 85 year old retired speech language pathologist who spent over two years bedridden — aphasic tremoring paranoid emaciated — in a nursing home, but when all medications were withdrawn on hospice I began to recover. I also was homeless due to substance abuse but after rehab and LifeRing (AA was demeaning and useless) I acquired a masters degree. I honor my now 20 years of being in recovery with now LifeRing zooming. I would be honored to speak or write publicly about it (actually I have a paragraph in Marty’s original book already). Feel free to reach me at [contact information withheld].