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Message from Michael Walsh, LifeRing Canada’s Executive Director

Hello members and friends of LifeRing Canada,

I am pleased to welcome you to our very first newsletter.  With this and future issues, we hope to keep you up-to-date on all the great things happening within LifeRing on Vancouver Island - and soon beyond! On January 30, 2008, I started the first LifeRing meeting in Victoria, B.C. and have since then expanded into 16 different groups across Sidney, Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo. We continue to build the organizational foundation of LifeRing Canada, so that we can eventually offer groups in every city across the country!

So many people have helped grow the organization to where it is today and this inaugural newsletter is dedicated to every single volunteer that has helped in the past or is currently offering their time and expertise to growing the organization. Thank you to all of you! ! A special thank you to Courtnay Laporte for this newsletter – this is all her work and we are very grateful and excited that she is on board!

Want to know more about LifeRing? Book a complimentary in-service presentation by connecting with me at Michael@LifeRingCanada.org.

Member Profile: Maggie's Success

Like many, Maggie was filled with shame, guilt and remorse for what her addiction had done to her life. She was introduced to LifeRing in January 2012 and came with a need to rebuild the damage she had done to her relationships, finances and health. Maggie had attended meetings by other organizations in the past, but never found they worked for her. She found at her first LifeRing meeting that the atmosphere was “calm, sensible, and respectful,” something that she did not expect. 

Her experience at her first meeting shaped the success of her recovery. The meeting convenor talked about LifeRing’s philosophy in how recovery is each person’s choice and about how each individual needs to empower their sober self. These concepts stayed with Maggie throughout her time with LifeRing and in the end were critical to her success. Maggie mentioned that one of the main reasons that she continued to attend LifeRing’s meetings is the non-hierarchal arrangement of the meetings. There was no one telling her what she had to do. Recovery was a personal choice and she shaped hers through the Recovery by Choice Workbook.

LifeRing has helped Maggie realize that in order to succeed she needs to have a plan, a plan that was hers and no one else’s. The workbook, resources in the community, LifeRing’s peer support system, PALS and LifeRing meetings have helped Maggie on her way to success.

In the end Maggie says that, “There are not enough words to express my sincere gratitude for this wonderful program, Michael who brought it here and all those involved in LifeRing.”

Research Backs up LifeRing Canada's Methods

Last spring and summer, LifeRing Canada worked with two members from the Psychology Department at the University of Victoria. Dr. Erica Woodin and Alina Sotskova, M.Sc. conducted a study on how LifeRing affects its members. A survey was completed by 50 LifeRing participants in Victoria, B.C. 

From the survey it was found that approximately half of the participants felt that there was a strong match between their beliefs and LifeRing’s philosophy. The survey also demonstrated that with high satisfaction with LifeRing, the motivation to stop drinking, and active participation in LifeRing all aid in lowering participants current drinking levels. Lastly, the survey showed participants who were regularly (i.e., attending meetings on a regular basis) and actively involved with LifeRing were more likely to report better mental health and less stress.

A separate part of the study was done to find out whether or not LifeRing’s training had an effect on the meeting convenors. The study demonstrated that from pre-to-post convenor training, convenors showed an increase in confidence in their facilitation skills. Additionally, data gathered from observing the meetings showed that, generally, meeting participants were more engaged with each other at meetings that occurred after the training.

In the future, Dr. Erica Woodin and Alina Sotskova, M.Sc. are going to continue research on LifeRing and specifically look at what LifeRing’s current strengths are and areas  that LifeRing Canada  can improve, according to feedback from survey participants.

To learn more about LifeRing’s preliminary research findings click here

Volunteer as a Meeting Convenor

One of the main reasons for LifeRing’s success is its convenors. They facilitate the meetings and encourage the positive, open and respectful atmosphere that takes place at a LifeRing meeting. Convenors set an example for LifeRing members and are often themselves in recovery. They understand where LifeRing members are coming from when they come to meetings to discuss their week. Every week convenors are facilitating 16 meetings in and around Victoria. In order to continue these meeting new convenors are always needed.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to become a convenor, please check out the website. For many other volunteer opportunities go here.

A New Way to Communicate for LifeRing Canada

This past month we introduced a chat room on our  website. One room will be used for general recovery discussion with no set meeting structure. Another will be used for scheduled meetings run by a convenor. Then there will be rooms where volunteers, convenors and Board of Director members can have private online discussions.

These online meetings will give LifeRing members another vehicle in their recovery support network. Members can use this in conjunction with LifeRing’s face-to-face meetings, counsellor appointments, treatment and the many other recovery resources available in the community.  Potential LifeRing members can also use the chat room as an introduction to LifeRing’s philosophy. Some members may feel more comfortable communicating to a convenor or counsellor online than in face-to-face meeting. Online meetings as well provide individuals who live outside the Greater Victoria area an option to participate in LifeRing.

We need volunteers to help with the online chat and meetings. If you would like to get involved please contact Michael@LifeRingCanada.org.