LifeRing offers alternative to 12-step program in Grand

Reid Tulley

September is National Recovery Month, promoting the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery from mental and substance abuse disorders, and those seeking to recover from substance abuse now have a new option in Grand County.

LifeRing Secular Recovery, a self-help group focused on sobriety, has begun conducting meetings in Grand County, offering people who suffer from substance abuse problems a non-religious pathway to abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

The group has been meeting at the Church of Eternal Hills in Tabernash on the first and third Thursdays of each month, and has been offering help to people who want to make sobriety a top priority in their life.

LifeRing started in California in 2010, and unlike other counseling groups, such as Alcoholic Anonymous, LifeRing is not a pre-established program of steps taken to avoid the use of alcohol or other drugs and is not based on religious beliefs. Rather LifeRing seeks to help individuals create a personalized recovery program that is tailored to each individual’s needs, while keeping members’ religious beliefs or disbeliefs private.

Individuals who participated in Alcoholics Anonymous but didn’t find the 12-step program helpful for various reasons started the group to create a different approach to recovery. The group now draws a few thousand members to its face-to-face meetings.

Participants seek to give new members advice on what has worked for them.

LifeRing seeks to build off other’s experiences to help people create a tailored recovery program, or as Dick Sprague, the man who has been convening the meetings locally and is an advocate for the group, puts it: “It gives you arrows to put in your quiver.”

Sprague discussed how different people have different triggers, such as the smell of alcohol or stress.

“If those are things that trigger you, you have to learn techniques to fight those triggers,” he said.

“All personalities have differences, and different things work for different people,” he said.

One of the techniques Sprague himself uses is having a non-alcoholic drink in his hand while at parties and get-togethers.

The group welcomes people from all walks of life and doesn’t require people to speak at the meetings, though asks individuals to share their first name and what their addiction is and how they battle that addiction.

The group bases its program on three principles: Sobriety, they believe their lives depend on complete abstinence from alcohol or other drugs; secularity, out of respect for people of all faiths or none, meetings are conducted in a secular way without religion or prayer; self-help, the group shares experiences, insights and ideas through discussions and conversations to help each member develop a personal recovery plan that works for them.

Those interested in attending meetings can contact Sprague at or by calling 303-898-3125. More information about the group can be found at or

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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