How Life Ring Can Provide Help for Alcoholics

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : JUNE 05, 
| 4 Sources

LifeRing - Non-Spiritual Help For The Alcoholic

LifeRing Secular Recovery offers a non-spiritual approach to beating alcoholism and giving the alcoholic help.

Life Ring Secular Recovery offers help for alcoholics that differs from Alcoholics Anonymous in a number of fundamental ways. In a Life Ring meeting there is..

  • No discussion of spirituality or religion. All religious/spiritual beliefs are personal and should stay so
  • No steps or prescribed path. Sobriety is achieved by the individual in conjunction with the group
  • No need for a sponsor. You choose the way that you feel will help you obtain and maintain sobriety
  • More opportunity to influence the individual meetings. Members views and ideas are valued and essential for LifeRing to grow
  • No separate meetings for different addictions. An addiction is an addiction whatever the substance
  • Those married to an alcoholic and significant others are welcome to attend meetings. There are no 'open' or 'closed' meetings

What is LifeRing Secular Recovery? 

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an abstinence-focused, global network of people seeking to recover from addiction to alcohol. In LifeRing Secular Recovery, they provide peer-to-peer support in many ways that promote continued learning and personal growth through empowerment. Their approach is based on refining, developing, and sharing their own personal strategies for sustained abstinence and building a rewarding life in recovery. 

Origins Of LifeRing

LifeRing Secular Recovery has been founded in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its origins are somewhat complicated to explain.

However, an abridged version goes something like this: LifeRing Secular Recovery came into existence due to a court ruling that prohibited, for various reasons, the then SOS (Secular Organizations For Sobriety) from using its name in Northern California. So SOS became LifeRing.

Secular Organizations For Sobriety still exists, LifeRing is an offshoot.

Since this split LifeRing has grown in strength. Having said that, it is still relatively small when compared to the likes of Alcoholics Anonymous, an global fellowship of individuals who’ve had drinking issues.

Its main strength lies in its online presence which is where its predecessor, SOS, gained its following. At its heart is LSRmail is perhaps the biggest online community of recovering alcoholics who eschew the spiritual approach to recovering from alcoholism.

Core Elements of The LifeRing Program

  • It is secular. All can attend. In meetings speaking about religion or spirituality is frowned upon
  • Meeting based. Meetings are an essential element of the program (see below), these can be real world meetings or online. Connecting is the key
  • No Labeling Necessary. You do not have to identify yourself as an addict or alcoholic in the meetings
  • Complete Abstinence LifeRing is about abstinence, that is not drinking or drugging AT ALL
  • Not Substance Specific Users of any substance are welcome at the meetings (it doesn't only provide help for alcoholics). As long as they wish to stop and are clean/sober during the meeting
  • It is free to attend There is no charge for LifeRing, it operates on a donation model. Any literature on the program can be purchased from their website
  • The Basic Philosophy of LifeRing is summed up by the three 'S's: Sobriety, Secularity and Self-Help (see below for more on this)

LifeRing Secular Recovery
The 'Three S' Philosophy

The way that this organization is run is by using a system of guidance and education to its members that involves the 'Three S' philosophy, which provides much-needed help for alcoholics and drug addicts that would like to not only obtain the goal of sobriety, but also to successfully REMAIN sober.

The Three S philosophy includes the following

  • SELF-HELP – The environment that individuals are able to find in LifeRing Secular Recovery is one that remains focused on a positive and supportive atmosphere.

    The belief of the group is that the answer to recovery resides within every single person that lives with addiction.

    The reinforcement and assistance of the group promotes self-help within each person of the group. Help for the alcoholic comes from within.
  • SECULARITY – This is a group that welcomes all individuals no matter what type of religious organization it may be that they belong to.

    To eliminate problems of debate, conversations and discussions of spirituality or faith are avoided.
  • SOBRIETY – LifeRing Secular Recovery is a group that believes true help for alcoholics or people that struggle with an addiction to drugs can only be successful if each member of the group refrains completely from even the smallest amount of consumption of alcohol or drug use. Thus, the key membership requirement is a drive to remain abstinent from alcohol as well as non-medically indicated drugs.

Why You Might Want To Look For Another Way"

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How LifeRing Meetings Promote Sobriety

The basic philosophy of LifeRing is that everybody who has a problem with substance abuse, and that includes alcohol, has an inner conflict going on within themselves.

This conflict is between the 'addict voice' and the 'sober voice' of the individual (to help you visualize - think of the cartoon characters who have a little devil on one shoulder urging them to do bad, and on the other a little angel urging them to do good). Lifering Secular Recovery

When the addict voice gains the upper hand so addiction becomes the norm. If it is not arrested, then the addiction will run rampant. Conversely if the 'sober voice' wins out, so sobriety will flourish.

LifeRing meetings provide help for alcoholics by facilitating the victory of the 'sober voice'. In a meeting the 'sober voice' is in dominance, because a meeting is made up of those who wish to become sober. Each sober voice feeds of the other thus giving and at the same time, gaining strength. And so the 'sober voice' grows and grows.

It is not hard to see why the LifeRing meeting is an essential part of this program.

Help for Alcoholics - Finding A Meeting

There are currently meetings in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland. Click on this link to find a list of current LifeRing meetings throughout the world. The list is being constantly updated, so be sure to check back on a regular basis.

Another possibility is to access a meeting online, you can do this by visiting a LifeRing chat-room where they have virtual meetings everyday.

Help is Available For You!

Aside from support groups, there are other alcoholism treatment options that you can benefit from. Reach out to a dedicated treatment provider to know more.

Other AA Alternatives:

LifeRing Secular Recovery
Is it anti-religious then?

To say LifeRing Secular Recovery is anti-religion is not accurate.

The approach to alcoholism recovery espoused by this organization is humanist in nature. That is, the POWER to beat alcoholism is not found outside the individual, rather it is there in each alcoholic.

They (or you) have it within themselves to beat alcohol addiction.

This approach is ultimately an affirmation of the power of humanity, not a rejection of religion or spirituality. In truth LifeRing does not provide help for alcoholics, it facilitates alcoholics to help themselves.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


LifeRing Greenwich CT. About Us.

American Psychological Association. Empowering your sober self: The LifeRing approach to addiction recovery.

LifeRing Secular Recovery. The "3-S" Philosophy of LifeRing.

Alcoholics Anonymous. What is A.A.?.

Return from Help for Alcoholics to Alcohol Treatment Programs 

Return from Help for Alcoholics to Alcoholism Help Homepage

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