LifeRing Recovery and Procrustes

In ancient Greek mythology there was a roadside bandit named Procrustes who had a bed in which he forced all travelers to lie. Those who were shorter than the bed, he stretched until their bones cracked; those who were longer, he cut off their feet.

Most alcoholism and addiction programs are like Procrustes and his bed. Everyone has “The Program”: one size fits all. In AA, everyone does the Twelve Steps. In Rational Recovery, everyone does AVRT. In SMART, everyone does REBT. And so on. Each vendor promises that its particular Program is the Answer. In fact, some people are helped by the Steps, some are not, and the same is true of the others. There is no such thing as one Program that works for everybody, and we doubt there will ever be.

LSR is unique in the alcoholism and addiction movement in deliberately not offering a capital-P Program. We have no Program, no panacea, no one-size-fits-all, no cookie cutter, no miracle cure, no magic pill to sell. We reject the whole dichotomy between Program and alcoholic, in which The Program is the active, knowing, healthy protagonist and the alcoholic is the passive, dumb, sick raw material to be stamped and molded into the desired shape. We think that any approach that acts on the alcoholic over time as an outside compulsion, a Program, is doomed to fail with most people most of the time.

No program, including the LSR self-empowerment approach, will work if the person doesn’t have an inner desire to escape from addiction. LSR rests its entire chance of success on the encouragement and rational nurture of that desire.

We hold that each alcoholic or addict needs to construct their own sobriety based on their own experiences and needs. We think each alcoholic not only needs to, but is able to constuct his or her own personal sobriety program, if afforded the support and the tools. The work of puting a program together must be and is done by the newly recovering persons themselves, just as each of us with long-term sobriety has done it for ourselves. We have confidence in the ability of alcoholics and addicts, no matter how serious our history, to pull ourselves together with peer support. We have seen it work. Conversely, we are quite certain that we cannot get and stay sober unless we construct a sobriety program for ourselves. That is why we say that we have no one (big-P) Program; we have as many programs (small p) as we have participants.


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LifeRing Secular Recovery is an organization of people who share practical experiences and sobriety support. There are as many ways to live free of drugs and alcohol as there are stories of successful sober people.

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