Craig Whalley LifeRing Secular Recovery Success Story

Craig Whalley LifeRing Secular Recovery Success Story

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Craig Whalley-15 years in recovery
Craig Whalley

Craig Whalley is a person in long-term recovery. He is a member of LifeRing Secular Recovery. LifeRing is a worldwide self-help organization that promotes non-religious/non-spiritual, abstinence-based recovery.  They offer peer-to-peer support through face-to-face and online meetings that encourage personal growth and continued learning through individual empowerment. They believe that each person has the power to change. LifeRing focuses on weakening the “Addict Self”  while strengthening the “Sober Self” by focusing on members’ current lives and triggers rather than experiences from the more distant past.

(See LifeRing’s book, “Empowering Your Sober Self,” here)

Read Craig’s Success story below.

An alternative to traditional 12-Step. LifeRing is a non-religious/non-spiritual based recovery program focus on empowering one's self.

Craig Whalley’s Recovery Success Story

There are many roads to recovery. Finding the path that works for you is a huge challenge that often plays itself out at the very beginning of the journey when one’s thinking may not be at its best.

I was a small town bookseller, living alone after a difficult marriage and divorce when I finally acknowledged to myself that I needed help to quit drinking. There had been periods in my earlier life when I seemed able to quit on my own for significant periods of time, but I always went back eventually — often because I simply forgot how high a price I would pay for even one drink. After a few weeks or months of abstinence I’d feel healthy and normal. And I’d find myself in a situation in which picking up a drink seemed the most natural act imaginable. The slide back downhill was always quick.

We had copies of the AA “Big Book” at my bookstore and I would surreptitiously flip through it at times, hoping to find “the answer.” I was always disappointed. I’m not religious at all, to start with. And the idea of being “powerless” was offensive to me. Most of the 12 steps seemed totally beside the point — I wanted to know how to get and stay sober, not how to completely re-invent myself or go through a spiritual awakening.

As my drinking increased over time, I remained a “functional” drinker, but was gradually becoming less so. My drinking hours increased as my work hours decreased. Still, it never really occurred to me to seek a treatment program. The only ‘treatment’ I felt I needed was to quit the damn drinking. I didn’t want a whole program thrown at me, I just wanted support and information. But short of treatment, the only choice offered in my small city was AA. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, a faith-based approach was the only answer for my problem. I searched the internet for alternatives. At first the searches produced only AA sites, blogs, testimonials, etc. Finally, I hit on a search term that worked: “secular”. That led me to the website for LifeRing Secular Recovery.

I knew almost instantly that I’d found what I was looking for: an organization offering support groups that weren’t interested in one’s spiritual life, didn’t insist on a one-size-fits-all approach and emphasized that each participant was responsible for building their own personal recovery plan. Addiction wasn’t labeled a character defect but rather a condition rooted in genetics, psychology and life-experiences. Call it a disease or not, but it was real and not spiritual.

So I had found the approach I wanted, but they were a fledgling organization and had no meetings anywhere near me. Eager to avoid attending AA, I decided to join a LifeRing email group, not knowing what to expect. It functioned like a slow motion, 24/7/365 support group meeting that I could enter or leave whenever I chose without missing anything. It was a perfect fit for me. I write better than I talk and I read better than I listen, so I participated actively and immediately knew the “support” piece of the recovery puzzle was in place.

Support isn’t the only thing needed, however, and it still took me a good long time to get sober for good. I had to learn things about myself, about the nature of addiction, about what I needed to change and what I needed to hold on to. But it’s been more than 15 years now since I had a drink — I didn’t learn instantly but I did learn at a deep level. I’m not Mr. Happy now — my life isn’t filled with joy every minute. But I’ve regained my self-respect, found immense satisfaction in my volunteer work in LifeRing, and discovered a kind of friendship based on real honesty that I had never experienced before. I’m retired now and spend hours every day working to strengthen LifeRing and to bring its path to recovery to as many people as possible.

People entering recovery need to know that there are choices. I’m so glad I made the right choice.

By Craig Whalley

To get more information on the LifeRing program click here

For information on recovery coaching click here

Disclaimer: LifeRing does not endorse Eminent Potential in anyway. 

5 thoughts on “Craig Whalley LifeRing Secular Recovery Success Story

  1. It gives me a breath. Recovering from alcohol is possible without “higher powers”. Considering recovery as a secular task is good enough for people like me, no prayers, no gods, no religious beliefs, no spiritual awakenings and all that stuff. Recovering from booze is an earthly enterprise, nothing else. I know it´s for me, LifeRing is my personal path to a long lasting sobriety, thanks!

    1. Thank you for your reply Carlos! I am also in recovery via another pathway, as it was the only option provided to me . However, I’ve recently been given a copy of “Empowering Your Sober Self” which I might add is an amazing piece of literature. I simply cannot put it down. Unknowingly, I’ve been “Enforcing My Sober Self” as well as, what I call, playing the tape through and/or making mental pros and cons lists which is what LifeRing refers to as “Developing My Choice Muscle”. In addition to consistent other self improving activities, I’ve three years total abstinence, and never been better!

      My point here is, I believe many people would find great benefits in using your program. I’m trying to introduce the LifeRing Secular program to the people in my area (Southwestern PA). Most have never even heard of it. What a shame! We have many people dying and suffering in addiction. I truly believe LifeRing could be a game changer in recovery. Would you possibly be willing to submit a success story for this site? Some of the folks around here need evidence of the hope and possibilities. The people need choices! Please let me know. Also, maybe ask your peers, so we can spread LifeRing across the East Coast, and hopefully save some lives! My personal email is I hope to ttys!

  2. This gives me some, no, a great deal of encouragement. I struggle with the fact that I had longterm sobriety, lost it, and am humiliated and introduced as “a retread.” I was successful in business and a college athlete but now I am old and retired and stuff gets harder to deal with (I have obviously less time on this earth, and, I don’t know if I will live long enough to get the numerical number of days/years that I had in the past). And truthfully, I’m not sure that I care. I am at peace with myself today. I’m not ashamed of being a soldier of fortune in the ups and downs and in-between’s in this existence called “life.” I finally picked up a devotional that was something other than what I usually read (which was either a.a. philosophy, or, religious). This is called, I believe, the Daily Stoic. I’m a very deep thinker and feeler. This seems right for me.

    1. Thank you for your comment Gary. If you havent yet read “Empowering Your Sober Self”, do yourself a favor. It is phenomenal.

      Also, don’t beat yourself up. We all fall down, but we must get back up and start over. Don’t focus on time you had before. Only focus on the time you can get now. You get a “do over”.

      There are online LifeRing meetings, an email group and a Facebook page you can attend. Check them out. Email me for support anytime.



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