Women for Sobriety and The New Life Program
By WFS Staff and Volunteers
Women for Sobriety is an international abstinence-based recovery organization for women. WFS offers a non-professional, self-help and mutual aid program known as the New Life Program. A fundamental part of the WFS philosophy is that women have different needs in recovery from men because they tend to use substances for different reasons and are typically socialized to address life’s problems in different ways. Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick recognized that women require different strategies and the life-saving program known as WFS was created in 1975.
- The New Life Program of recovery,
- Face-to-face group meetings,
- Online message boards,
- Online chat meetings,
- Phone support, US,
- Daily inspirations on social media,
- Annual National Conference, and
- New Life Program literature.
Other support materials are also available to help women pursue a positive and happy recovery. There is no membership fee to participate in the New Life Program. The WFS organization is funded by donations from members of the public, literature sales, and similar activities.
The WFS New Life Program
Any woman with a sincere desire to achieve lasting recovery is welcome. The program is designed especially for women who have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs. It is a positive, empowering, strengths-based program, emphasizing that women can draw on their own inner strength to change their thinking and use their own abilities and competencies in order to change their lives.
WFS teaches empowerment and that women have the ability to change their way of thinking from negative to positive, which then goes on to shape their actions accordingly. Thus recovery is predicated on a change in outlook at the most basic level – the inner self.
Central to the New Life Program are 13 affirmations, called the Acceptance Statements. These statements emphasize positive thinking, personal responsibility, and personal growth. They are the tools with which women can learn to establish a secure, self-confident base from which to move forward in their recovery.
WFS New Life Program Acceptance Statements
- I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
I now take charge of my life and my well-being. I accept the responsibility.
- Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act is to reduce negativity in my life.
- Happiness is a habit I am developing.
Happiness is created, not waited for.
- Problems bother me only to the degree I permit.
I now better understand my problems. I do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
- I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
- Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
- Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important.
- The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
- The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized by the past. I am a new woman.
- All love given returns.
I am learning to know that I am loved.
- Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure the moments of my New Life.
- I am a competent woman, and I have much to give life.
This is what I am, and I shall know it always.
- I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.
© WFS Inc. 2017
The statements can be used in any order or combination that the woman chooses. This flexibility encourages each woman to customize these program components to meet her specific needs in pursuit of her individual recovery. Women are encouraged to keep the statements close and choose one to work on throughout the day. The Statements are also organized into Levels of Recovery to help women continue growing in their New Lives.
WFS Meetings – “Face-to-Face Groups”
Women are made incredibly welcome, as everyone at the meeting knows how hard it is to walk through that door. WFS face-to-face meetings are typically held weekly. They are not open to the public and only women pursuing recovery may attend. The meeting process begins with brief introductions, during which the women at the group meeting identify themselves by saying, “My name is Jean and I am a competent woman.” Women then practice positive self-talk by reporting one positive thing they did in the past week. A Certified Moderator (a woman who reports having at least a one continuous year alcohol- and drug-free) prepares a topic for each week, but if the need arises, a different, more relevant topic can be substituted. The meeting is a focused, relaxed conversation. Questions, feedback, and discussions are encouraged but not mandatory within the group.
WFS Online Community – “The Forum”
A safe space for women to share struggles, challenges, and the highs and lows of being sober. This worldwide community of women is a round-the-clock place where women can ask for, receive, and lend support to and from others. The forum is run by WFS peers, women who have volunteered to help ensure that WFS Online is a safe place to be. Some special features of the forum include:
Daily Pledge – Every morning around the world, woman go to the WFS Online Community forum and join a thread pledging sobriety the next 24 hours, holding out their hand to the next woman, and creating an international circle of support.
Topic Forums – Women can post questions and stories to the general topic board, practice celebrating their accomplishments in Milestones, tell the group about themselves in Introductions, and discuss any number of New Life subjects in one of the topic forums.
Journals – This blog-style feature is a place for women to post their personal reflections about their recovery.
Group Gatherings and Healthy Living Groups – These ongoing groups of women who share a common interest allow participants to develop closer bonds with a more intimate subset of forum users. Specific groups may vary according to the interest of current users, but typically include groupings such as newbies, LGBT, goal-setting and health-related interest groups, New Life Moms, Double Trouble Winners (for women with drinking family members), and others.
Online Meetings – “Chats”
Women are warmly welcomed when they join an online meeting of the New Life Program. These follow the same format as the f2f meetings but they are held in an online chat room instead of in person. These text-based meetings are led by a Certified Chat Leader (CCL) on a prepared topic. They open with an introduction and a positive affirmation, then the discussion commences. They finish with the group holding cyber hands of solidarity. They are held at various times of the week and throughout the day to accommodate various international time zones.
Phone Support Volunteer
Phone support volunteers are peers in recovery who have volunteered to take phone calls from new women to help them get started in the New Life Program. They report having at least one year of continuous abstinence from alcohol and illegal/misused drugs and have demonstrated knowledge of the WFS philosophy and principles of the New Life Program. (Phone support volunteers are not on-call support or trained counselors.)
Daily Inspirations on Social Media
A WFS volunteer posts an inspirational photo and one of the 13 Acceptance Statements each day on the following social media:
- Twitter: @WFS4C
- Facebook: facebook.com/WomenForSobriety
- Instagram: Instagram.com/womenforsobriety
Annual National Conference
Held every year in June, women from around the world come together to share support and deepen their knowledge of the New Life Program. It is a great opportunity to meet other women who use the program, have fun, and learn more about WFS-related recovery topics. The conference now rotates around the United States to be more accessible to women nationwide.
New Life Program Literature
WFS offers a full catalog of literature designed to enhance and deepen a woman’s knowledge of the WFS philosophy. This catalog is undergoing a major updating initiative to bring the New Life Program alive for new generations of women in recovery. Check the catalog often for new items and downloadable content!
The WFS New Life Program has been empowering women to overcome addiction for over 40 years. It has been used by countless women as a standalone program of recovery, and by many more as a complement to other methods of healing. The Women for Sobriety organization believes that as knowledge of substance use disorders evolves, so too must recovery programs, and is currently engaged in a major effort to update its literature and other recovery resources. It is an exciting time to get sober with the New Life Program! Please visit us at www.womenforsobriety.org to locate a meeting or phone support person in your area, register for our online support, and more.
For a PDF of this article click here: Women for Sobriety and The New Life Program.
Love seeing the WFS Recovery Path being placed and talked about on this platform, it was a lifesaver for me many years ago when I needed something …and, it still is, as I operate with it being a part of me now. It is a Program that can be worked in tandem with any other Program one might also be working, as it takes an approach of working with the whole woman.
Please I need to do this!!!
Before I became a member of my secular AA group, I attended WFS meetings regularly. Although many of the Acceptance Statements didn’t resonate with me, I benefited from having the support of other women in the group. Since the meetings I went to were held at a treatment centre, attended by the women in detox and treatment, it was an immediate reminder of the challenges of starting on the road to recovery. I hadn’t attended any AA meetings at the time, so I was unaware of the religiosity of traditional AA meetings. In retrospect, I’m happy that my WFS meetings didn’t include any Christian dogma. It was an open and caring space as I started my journey. I still drop in from time to time and I appreciate the warm welcome of the friends I made there.
WFS sounds like a good program. I have read a little about it in the past. One thing which I would like to have seen addressed is how does it work with those 13 positive affirmations when someone comes into the program overwhelmed by negativity?
I know whenever I have been in a real negative space overly positive attitudes around me would seem scary rather than helpful, and I would tend to run away.
Most of us have come to WFS mired in that negativity ourselves, so we understand what that’s like and tend to be pretty gentle with new women. In fact, a lot of our work comes in not just consciously cultivating positiveness, but also accepting and allowing discomfort when it is necessary or unavoidable. That’s our #8 in action.
I appreciate this feedback, because I think we could make that more clear in future outreach work. Thank you!
I like the secular and positive approach of WFS. There is, or has been, a spin-off – Men for Sobriety – in Canada, with at least one group meeting in Wisconsin, USA. If anyone has more information about Men for Sobriety, please post it.
We are actually working on an update of our Men for Sobriety literature, Oren! It should be available in our bookstore within a month. You are correct that there are not many MFS meetings out there, nor is there an online MFS community right now. However, all it would take is a motivated volunteer to make either of those things happen. Let me know if you want to help!
I met Adrienne Miller of WFS At NAADAC last year and talked to her – Rebellion Dogs Radio Episode 40. We have much to learn from each other.
It was great meeting you, Joe! Hope to see you in Florida this fall!
AA fundamentalists see the AA book and 12-Step program as PERFECT because, well …because God!! That’s why. It’s seen as perfect for EVERYBODY.
In reality, AA was created by men, for men, and more specifically, for certain types of men called “power drivers.” Someone who tried to conquer Wall Street might well benefit from ego reduction, but is that what’s needed by “Jane,” whose step-father used to come to her room for nightly visits?
Dr. Bob Smith may have said it best in the summer of 1939 when he said: “We have never had a woman. We will never work on a woman.” For the record, he was the co-founder, folks.