Profiles in Recovery

Craig Whalley

Sober, secular and self-directed. That’s the essence of LifeRing, an international recovery support network that helped Whalley stop drinking.

The retired bookstore owner was seeking an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous. He liked the pragmatic, present-day emphasis of LifeRing, which believes that people DO have the power to overcome their addictions. Bolstered by peer support, Whalley learned how to strengthen his Sober Self and weaken the Addict Self.

Now in recovery for 15 years, Whalley encourages others in his volunteer role as Deputy Executive Director for LifeRing Secular Recovery.

Rules I live by:
LifeRing has only one “rule:” Don’t Drink No Matter What. That’s the rule I live by.

Best advice for newbies:
Recovery is often very difficult but always worth it. And the difficulty is temporary while the “worth it” is forever.

What worked for me:
I joined LifeRing Secular Recovery because it was an alternative to AA that was a much better fit for my beliefs and my approach to life. Drawing on the support and information gained from one of its email groups, I slowly gained the strength I needed to overcome my addictive behavior.

I was empowered by the sharing with people very much like me. I realized that if they could do it, so could I. No Steps; no Powerlessness; no one-size-fits-all Program, just a bunch of addicts working together to free themselves.

Stigma I faced:
I was a small town bookseller, very fearful of customers learning of my problem with alcohol. I drank privately and tried hard to give no indication of intoxication at my shop. The fear of the stigma kept me from being proactive about my addiction, even after I knew I needed help. Finding a wonderful email group support system resolved that fear.

When cravings come:
I don’t get real cravings anymore, but I do have passing thoughts that I know are dangerous. I try hard to just turn away from them and if that fails, I remind myself of the Hell awaiting me if I slip.

What I value most in recovery:
Life doesn’t become easy with recovery, but it does become bearable. I drank to escape my pain and in recovery have learned to accept whatever life offers me.

On my schedule today:
Today I’ll be convening a LifeRing meeting at a local treatment center where the clients view 30 days as ‘long-term recovery.’ I’ll learn from them as much as they will from me. And I’ll work at the LifeRing Service Center, trying to help the organization be more available to those seeking choice in recovery.

I get inspired by:
I now oversee a very active LifeRing email group. In that role, I’m able to see people come to us scared, discouraged, and filled with self-loathing. I watch them bloom like a flower as they experience the same sense of empowerment that I did when I first began.

When that happens, I grip more tightly to my own sobriety and feel inspired by the strength of the human spirit.

On finding purpose:
When I started in recovery, I thought it might be hard and would take a while, but that there would come a time when I was, if not cured, at least no longer in need of support. And here I am, 15 years later, still deeply involved in recovery. Being helped, and helping others, has given my life a purpose that I never imagined when I began the journey.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].