The "A" and the "S" Conflict

Imagine that inside of each person who is struggling with drug and/or alcohol issues, there is a conflict between a voice that wants to keep drinking/using, and another voice that wants to be free of the drug and lead a better life. We abbreviate these voices as the “A” (the addicted self) and the “S” (the sober self).

That is not only an imaginary situation, it is a common experience for people who have got into addictive substances deeper than they expected.

When two or more people get together who have this inner conflict, two outcomes are possible. Too often, the “A” in one reaches out and connects with the “A” in the other. “Let me buy you a drink!” “Sure, and I'll get the next one.” They set up a feedback loop that reinforces the “A” in both of them and suppresses the “S.” This is a vicious cycle with harmful consequences ultimately leading to premature death.

But if the “S” in one person connects with the “S” in the other, they reinforce one another's sobriety. “I'm fed up with my drinking/­drugging life. I want something more.” “That's my feeling too.” “I didn't think I could do it but I stayed sober today.” “If you can do it, I guess I can too.” “Last week I celebrated a birthday without drinking – I'm so pleased!” “Good for you!”

After each meeting, the “S” in each person is stronger than before. At some point, the person experiences a transformation. The “S” grows stronger than the “A” and rises to the top. Sobriety stops being an uphill battle and becomes almost second nature. So long as people avoid putting alcohol/drugs into their body, they can realize whatever potential lies within them and live full, productive lives.

This “S-to-S” connection is the engine of the LifeRing recovery process as we practice it in our meetings, both in-person and online. We call it “Empowering Your Sober Self.”

The LifeRing brochure, "LifeRing in a Nutshell" contains further illustrations.  You can find much more detailed and in-depth explanations in the popular book Empowering Your Sober Self, and in the LifeRing convenor's handbook, "How Was Your Week?", both available in the LifeRing bookstore.

The main thing to remember is that the LifeRing process is strength-based; it works by positive reinforcement of qualities that you already have.