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About Empowering Your Sober Self

\"In Empowering your Sober Self, Martin Nicolaus introduces a new, rational approach to addiction recovery, grounded in secularity, and informed by modern science. The LifeRing program mobilizes the power of caring and connection to liberate the sober self that lives inside everyone who struggles with addiction.\" -- Tom Moon, MFT; columnist, S.F. Bay Times
“In a field where most treatment is driven by myth, politics, and ideological dogma, Nicolaus’ book is a breath of fresh air. It is well written, contemporary, research based and client centered; it will without a doubt help people find recovery who would otherwise become lost.” Dr. B J Davis, Clinical Director, Strategies for Change, Sacramento CA
\"Martin Nicolaus\'s Empowering Your Sober Self: The LifeRing Approach to Addiction Recovery is a vital reading for anyone engaged in addiction treatment and recovery. I have no doubt that it will be celebrated as an important resource for professionals and individuals who truly wish to explore innovative self-management recovery options.\" -- Madalynn C. Rucker, Executive Director, ONTRACK Program Resources California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs Technical Assistance & Training Contractor
“Finally an author understands that an individuals success in recovery starts with the option of choice. There is no wrong way to sobriety, just one that is wrong for me.” -- Garry Mehlhorn, Ontario, Canada (sober 3+ years)
\"We badly need more roads to recovery. Nicolaus\' book details one such road: positive, empathetic, down to earth -- and a great read.\" -- Lonny Shavelson MD, Author of Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge our Misguided Drug Rehab System
\"This book encapsulating the LifeRing program, is an excellent tool for Recovery, particularly for those put off by the concepts of ‘powerlessness’ and ‘higher power’.\" Ralph Cantor - Coordinator of Drug Prevention at the Alameda County Office of Education
LifeRing’s approach was the greatest gift I could ever give to my young family – if you are a parent who drinks, please give yourself a gift and read this book. -- Trish S., Pacifica CA, sober parent
\"Issues a long overdue challenge to the accepted wisdom surrounding recovery from addiction, and illuminates a viable, alternative perspective on recovery.\" -- Sarah E. Zemore Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville CA
\"Finally, a respectful approach to persons caught in addiction. Nicolaus has given us another option in the heroic battle people fight to regain the wholeness which addiction compromises.\" -- Linda Mercadante, Ph.D., Straker Professor of Historical Theology, The Methodist Theological School in Ohio; author of Victims & Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery
\"I got the book \"Empower Your Sober Self\" as a gift, and while reading that\'s like EVERYTHING just came together. And, even though I\'ve always been one to smile, I\'m smiling bigger than ever because I feel like this great burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. I\'m not wrong, I\'m not insane, I\'m not powerless...I\'m just \"me\"....and it\'s the best feeling I\'ve felt in a long time.\" -- Rick A., sober person
\"Martin Nicolaus offers the reader a sensible and doable discipline for anyone serious about getting free of drugs and alcohol, regardless of personal beliefs.\" -- Doug Althauser, M.Ed., CSAC, MAC, author of You Can Free Yourself From Alcohol & Drugs
\"Martin Nicolaus, one of LifeRing’s founding members, has written a lucid explanation of its approach, philosophy and what it has meant to him and to others. I believe this book will be very helpful to both treating professionals and to many who continue to struggle with addictions. No one approach has all the answers, but this book certainly has many of them.\" -- George Ubogy M.D., Medical Director, Addiction Recovery Center, Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, CT
This is an eloquently written, audience-friendly piece of work that truly engages the reader from the first page to the last. The book chronicles the emergence of LifeRing—a promising alternative to AA but without powerlessness, insanity, the supernatural, and other elements of AA that have deterred millions from participating in self-help groups. Through a medley of inspiring accounts of personal triumph, revelations of the peculiar historical evolution of AA, along with the results of empirical studies, Nicolaus reveals the remarkable power of the human spirit over the pharmacological properties of alcohol and other drugs. Masterfully done. -- William Cloud, PhD, MSW, Professor, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver
\"With impressive analytical clarity and therapeutic generosity, Nicolaus presents a well--argued brief for understanding the complexities of addiction treatment and accepting the full range of diverse paths to recovery. The data on recovery and the biological, social and genetic interactions in addiction are well presented in this brief well-written text. Professionals in the field and laymen wanting insight and balance on a vitally important public health issue will appreciate the author\'s lively and respectful presentation.\" -- Judith Herman MD, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Harvard University Medical School
\"In the words of our president, \'it’s time for a change\' and nowhere is this more evident than in the field of addiction treatment. Nicolaus has written a wonderful book that presents LifeRing, a new model for self-help groups. A model based on empathy, scientific evidence, and giving people the power make their own choices about treatment options. Indeed, change has come.\" -- Joseph R. Volpicelli M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the Institute of Addiction Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and co-author of Recovery Options: The Complete Guide.
\"This book reinforces the view that the brain\'s reward systems are usurped by drug addiction and is a strong argument for linking mechanisms of recovery with the concept that addiction is a disease of the brain.\" George F. Koob, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
Drawing from his own experiences and highlighting the experiences of many others who have found LifeRing support groups and approaches useful on their journey, Nicolaus offers hope and challenges some central tenets about addictions that he believes can interfere with leaving the addicted self and finding the sober self. He offers a sane and secular approach to seeking sobriety and a sophisticated, insightful, and well documented view of the philosophy and practice that are at the heart of this LifeRing approach. This book offers a perspective on recovery that can motivate change in clinicians and researchers as well as among individuals struggling to find their sober selves.\" Carlo DiClemente, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland
I could not put it down. The book is engaging, touching, and at the same time quite informative -- a must read for the addict and non-addict alike. -- Asma Asyyed MD, Berkeley CA
\"Reducing the addict self by itself has no effect unless the sober self grows and fills the gap.\" Martin Nicolaus\' new book, a compilation of stories and principles to assist recovery, fills the gap for those who wish to avoid 12-step programs and the mythos of disempowerment\" David A. Kaiser, Ph.D., Editor, Journal of Neurotherapy
\"Powerful, engaging, and scientific. Marty Nicolaus shows that the sober self emerges by focusing on a person’s strength, intelligence, supportive relationships, and the ability to ask, what works? I highly recommend this excellent book to all people dealing with addictions and compulsive behavior. -- Charlotte Sophia Kasl, Ph.D., author of Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps
Using the best thinking and best science, Empowering Your Sober Self examines what works and what doesn\'t, and provides new hope and new solutions for anyone who craves a sober life, but can\'t make a go of it in the 12-step world. The book is well-written to boot, full of smart prose, great good humor, sparkling analogies, and fascinating nuggets of history and science. -- Matt Dean, software developer, web designer, LifeRing convenor, Charlotte, SC
\"True life recovery stories skillfully interwoven with theories about addiction and practical advice on how to overcome it.\" --CA Edington, Teacher, 10+ years sober through LifeRing, Sapporo, Japan
\"Truly groundbreaking. A must read for addiction professionals, people suffering from addictions and their loved ones.\" -- Lorraine Robinson, LSW, Executive Director, Ka Hale Ho`ala Hou No Na Wahine (The Home of Reawakening for Women), a re-entry program for women exiting prison, Honolulu HI.
\"Provides a compelling analysis of the philosophy of Life Ring, and how it compares to Alcoholics Anonymous. Readers will learn a great deal about the implications of the disease concept of alcoholism (to the alcohol industry, to coverage for treatment, and to the social stigma of addiction), of powerlessness (versus a healthy respect for addiction), and of the genetics of addiction.\" Lee Ann Kaskutas, Ph.D., senior scientist, Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, CA
\"Many people in recovery who are searching for an alternative to the disease model of addiction and the 12-Step program will find the LifeRing Approach to be an interesting path to follow.\" -- Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., Director, Addictive Behaviors Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle


Content Categories

My article on LifeRing published in Treatment Groups journal


Categories: Addiction My Life

Journal of Groups in Addiction Recovery

Journal of Groups in Addiction Recovery

An article I wrote late last year about the LifeRing recovery group has now been published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery, Vol. 7, 2012.  This is a special double issue on the theme “Broadening the Base of Addiction Mutual Support Groups: Bringing Theory and Science to Contemporary Trends.”

This is the abstract:

Addicted persons are torn between the urge to consume addictive substances and the drive to break with the substances and get free of them. The LifeRing approach anchors itself in the addicted person’s drive to get free of the substances and works to empower that urge and to enthrone it permanently in the addicted person’s character. Positive peer support focusing on small decisions made in everyday life is the primary psychodynamic engine for recovery in the LifeRing context. Working through nine principal domains, each participant constructs a personal recovery program founded on complete abstinence from all drugs of addiction.

A PDF copy of the piece can be viewed for nonprofit educational purposes (not for commercial republication) here.