WFS believes that having a life-threatening problem with alcohol and/or drug use is not a moral weakness, it is the symptom of a serious disorder which demands rigorous attention to healing. Founded by a sociologist who related over-reliance on substances to the loss of identity many women feel with competing roles in society, WFS believes that guilt, depression, and low (or no) self-esteem are common problems women experience for which substances have become the primary coping mechanism.
To overcome Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), women must address their real needs – the need for feelings of self-value and self-worth. The WFS New Life Program is specifically designed to fit these emotional needs of women. It shows women how to overcome their SUD with supportive group interactions. Together, women learn how to identify the problems which caused and were caused by their substance use, as well as new ways of approaching and solving problems. Together, women learn how to live individually; they learn awareness of self and fulfillment of self.
The Women for Sobriety New Life Program further promotes behavioral changes by:
Positive reinforcement (approval and encouragement)
Cognitive strategies (positive thinking)
Letting the body help (relaxation techniques, meditation, diet and physical exercise)
Dynamic group involvement.
The program concentrates on learning new self-enhancing behavior and developing a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy.
For more information on ways to access support from other women participating in the New Life Program, please visit the Community page.
By Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. (lightly revised from original publication in 1977)
What is meant by "The Program"? How do we view it? How is it to be used?
The Women for Sobriety New Life Program is comprised of thirteen Acceptance Statements that, when internalized and used, will provide each woman with a new way of life through a new way of thinking.
As women with addictions, we must learn about ourselves and how to avoid the pitfalls of faulty thinking and destructive behavior that used to lead us to taking that first drink or drug, even though we sometimes did not want to.
Since we had a faulty approach to life and living, we must turn our attention to finding new ways of overcoming. This starts with coping first but then moving on to overcoming and a whole change in our approach to each day.
To make the program effective for you, arise each morning fifteen minutes earlier than usual and go over the thirteen Acceptance Statements. Then begin to think about each one by itself. Take one statement and use it consciously all day. At the end of the day, just before sleeping, review the use of it and what affects it had that day for you and your actions. For some, it has proven helpful to use a notebook for recording the sequences of the day and the statement's effects upon you.
To make the program effective for you, it must be consciously used each day. Never forget that our faulty thinking is a result of many years. It cannot be corrected overnight. It takes a long time to realize that most of what we thought was cast in a negative view.
The philosophy of the Women for Sobriety New Life Program is that the image precedes our actions. Whatever we think, we eventually act out. If our thoughts are always negative, our actions will also be negative. If our thoughts are positive, so are our actions. One writer once said a garden of weeds cannot produce a beautiful flower. This is also true of our minds. If we have upsetting thoughts, we cannot have a serene life.
We used to think that life was upsetting and our problems followed but it is usually the other way around. Our thoughts were confused and negative, and life's actions came to be that way also. We create our own world. No one else does. We are responsible for ourselves and our choices. What we are, we made ourselves become.
We have the power of changing our way of thinking. We live in the atmosphere created by our mind and our thoughts.
We are now beginning to create a new woman, the woman we always wanted to be but never thought possible. The Women for Sobriety New Life Program helps you to change your thinking and shows you how to be the dynamic woman you have the capability of becoming. We begin by being in charge of our actions through our thoughts. We no longer react but, now, begin to act the way we want to act. We end game playing. We become our whole person by learning independent thinking.
Negative thoughts, so much a part of the life of women in active addiction, are often carried into sobriety. These negative thoughts frequently make the sober woman unhappy and depressed. She begins to wonder if sobriety is really worth it.
We used substances to cover pain, emotional pain. When we remove the substances, we must then learn a way to remove the emotional pain, which requires a new way of thinking about life.
Our program makes sobriety a happy existence by helping us to understand ourselves better. Our sobriety is more than simply a period of time in which we are not drinking; it becomes a happy learning experience.
Learn to know yourself and your addiction. This is how to overcome.
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.
To make the program effective for you, arise each morning fifteen minutes earlier than usual and go over the thirteen Acceptance Statements. Then begin to think about each one by itself. Take one statement and use it consciously all day. At the end of the day, just before sleeping, review the use of it and what affects it had that day for you and your actions.
Levels of Recovery
The WFS Acceptance Statements are the recovering woman’s guide to everyday thinking and living. As the New Life Program evolved, participants began to request a more chronological guide for their recoveries. In response, founder Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., defined the following Levels of Recovery.
Level 1: Acceptance of having a Substance Use Disorder, one that requires the cessation of substance use.
Acceptance Statement 1
We accept our addiction with the knowledge that we have a disorder and that abstinence from substances is necessary. We recognize that substances have damaged our bodies and minds, and special care and time are required for recovery. We learn more about substance use disorders and group members give needed support and the feeling of not being alone with our problems.
Level 2: Discarding negative thoughts, putting guilt behind, and practicing new ways of viewing and solving problems.
Acceptance Statements 2, 4, and 9
We are now ready to examine our attitudes and approach to life and its dilemmas. This is a time to write down in detail our concepts, experiences, difficulties, and feelings. We may believe that we are well aware of our thinking and attitudes, but only after we have written them with total honesty do we know what they really are - not what we thought them to be. Most women are surprised by this revelation.
At this stage we must also recognize the distorted, negative, and self-destructive patterns we have developed and resolve to change. This level is difficult and takes some time. Also, during a later period of stress, we may need to return to these exercises (or review any level). This is not a matter of failure, but an opportunity to grow and change again at times of crisis.
A physical exercise routine should now be established and a method for relaxation and meditation. Group members add support and positive reinforcements.
Level 3: Creating and practicing a new self-image.
Acceptance Statements 5 and 12
We are now ready to exchange our irrational, negative attitudes for realistic, positive thoughts about ourselves and our lives. We realize that our thoughts are responsible for our feelings and not the events, people, or situations themselves.
This level can be a happy time of growth and change. One unpleasant incident need not ruin an entire day; a mishap can be “unfortunate” and not “awful;” a mistake, “a learning experience,” not “a wretched blunder.”
We can make our environment pleasant, uncluttered and attractive and know that we alone create the world around us.
Level 4: Using new attitudes to enforce new behavior patterns.
Acceptance Statements 3, 6, and 11
We now become aware that we do not need to wait for or to seek enthusiasm and happiness - all we need do is reach out and grasp them. We can accept a happy and enthusiastic outlook on life or we can choose a gloomy, pessimistic and cynical approach - it is up to us. This level leads us to the next stage; much of the joy in life depends on sharing with others - happiness and enthusiasm are reinforced by those to whom we are close.
Level 5: Improving relationships as a result of our new feelings about self.
Acceptance Statements 7 and 10
This level can be difficult for most women. Our culture has taught us to be over-dependent on others - by attaching our self-esteem to our relationships and to approval from others. Our value as a person often depends on our relation to others and not on our own intrinsic worth. On the other hand, we fear and dread rejection and hurt. Now is the time to take risks - be open about our feelings - be vulnerable - balance giving and receiving. Mature, loving relationships can bring us the greatest happiness of all. And their success depends primarily on how we feel about ourselves.
Level 6: Recognizing life’s priorities: emotional and spiritual growth, self-responsibility.
Acceptance Statements 8 and 13
As we gain in knowledge and understanding of ourselves, our connection to others and our place in the world, we find a spiritual home that is both unique and personal to us. We nurture our spiritual growth and reach out to encourage self-responsibility and self-worth, not just for ourselves, but also for others.
As a woman grows in strength and understanding in this program, the need and desire to cope with life’s problems with alcohol or drugs are removed. Her destructive behavior and emotions are replaced with self-acceptance and confidence. She is no longer just a woman with an addiction problem; she is liberated and at peace with herself and her world.
Thousands of women have found this “new life” through the WFS Program.
We hope that this sampling of articles by program founder Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., will help with your recovery. These articles have been selected to highlight essential topics for women who are working the New Life Program and feature comments from participants. We encourage you to e-mail our office and share your insights and experiences as they pertain to these articles. Your comments may be added to these documents to help future women in their journeys!
- The Program
- Dealing With the Confusions of Early Sobriety
- Getting Back to the Real World
- Roadmaps For Your Life
- Sobriety or Recovery
- The Hungering Heart
- The Way It Is
- Understanding Relapse
- Wanting To Belong
If you are interested in reading more of Dr. Kirkpatrick's articles, A Collection of Sobering Thoughts booklets are available in our catalog. These booklets are a collection of articles written by Dr. Kirkpatrick and were first published in the Sobering Thoughts newsletter. The table of contents of each booklet lists all the articles along with the program statements that correlate. These booklets are a great resource for both participants and group moderators.
These articles are offered in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. The files can be opened with the Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5 or later. This literature may be downloaded and printed for personal and WFS meeting use only. Any alteration or distribution of this literature without written permission from Women for Sobriety, Inc. is prohibited.
For Professionals and Healthcare Providers
Evidence for the efficacy of various mutual-aid recovery programs continues to grow. Most recently, a longitudinal study conducted by the Alcohol Research Group found the Women for Sobriety New Life Program to be equally as effective as SMART Recovery and LifeRing as compared to AA in many rehabilitation measures (Zemore, et al, 2018). Despite fewer meetings being available nationwide for non-12-step groups, participants in WFS, SMART, and LifeRing report equivalent activity involvement as well as higher levels of satisfaction and cohesion than 12-step participants (Zemore, et al, 2017).
WFS is, of course, the only one of these mutual-aid programs designed specifically for women’s needs. The gender-specific format may be particularly helpful for women with backgrounds of domestic violence, sexual trauma, anxiety, and other similar considerations. All expressions of female identify are welcome at WFS meetings, including women within the LGBTIQQA+ umbrella. WFS does not discourage the use of medications that may enhance recovery efforts, making it a suitable adjunct for MAT programs. And WFS meetings satisfy recovery support attendance requirements for many courts and other monitoring programs (please check with your individual jurisdiction).
Given the frequent lack of desire of clients to attend or return to certain types of meetings, the unique needs of women, and the mounting evidence for the efficacy of the various mutual aid options, many treatment centers and other behavioral health agencies have requested to use the New Life Program with their clients. Women for Sobriety is proud to have a long history of collaboration with treatment programs and professionals to ensure that this viable option is available to all women in recovery. We offer a free downloadable Introduction to WFS packet that providers can distribute free of charge to all women or use in psychoeducational sessions about mutual aid options.
While most WFS meetings are peer-facilitated, professional counselors may run meetings as part of their treatment programming. Meetings are held daily, weekly, or on another regular schedule that suits the program's needs. WFS groups that are part of a treatment program are frequently moderated by female addictions counselors or therapists within the center. If the group is open to the public, a non-professional woman from the community will often take over running the group when she becomes qualified under the normal certification process. (To apply for Certified Moderator status as a private practitioner, simply fill out our Volunteer Application.)
Before offering WFS groups in the clinical setting, it is important that the counselor familiarizes herself with the New Life Program and philosophy to ensure fidelity to the WFS meeting structure and unique approach to recovery. It is highly recommended that the Professional Starter Kit (see below) be studied. The kit includes group guidelines that will explain the format of WFS meetings, topics for discussion, and a Professional Coupon Code for 10% off future New Life Program literature purchases.
It is recommended that agencies provide a copy of the WFS Program Booklet, a New Member Packet, and a Statement Wallet Card to each new participant. For the convenience of our providers, New Member Packets and Statement Wallet Cards in equal quantity will be provided with each WFS Program Booklet purchased using a Professional Coupon Code. As with any mutual aid program, after a woman completes treatment, she should be encouraged to attend WFS meetings in her area and return to the facility to attend WFS meetings if possible.
$50 plus shipping/handling—25% savings!
Includes everything needed to prepare staff to lead WFS meetings in the facility:
- Two books by program founder Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick - Turnabout: New Help for the Woman Alcoholicand Goodbye Hangovers, Hello Life: Self-Help for Women ($30.95 value)
- 5 WFS Program Booklets ($25 value)
- 5 packets of introductory literature for participants (New Member Packet and Statement Wallet Card)
- Moderator’s Manual ($8.75 value)
- Guidelines for Moderators booklet ($2.50 value)
- Professional Coupon Code for 10% off literature and booklets for participants.
- Free listing on the WFS online Meeting Finder (WFS does not endorse or recommend any agency, but provides this listing as courtesy to our participants seeking New-Life-friendly treatment and facilities offering clients the option of the New Life Program of recovery).
- Additional listing on Meeting Finder if a weekly meeting is open to the public/non-clients.
Due to increased demand, the Professional Starter Kit is now available in our online catalog!
Additional Resources for Providers:
- Monday Thoughts—Inspirational quotes and reflections by WFS Chair Karen Hamm and a WFS member; a perfect prepackaged topic for your weekly meeting.
- News & Announcements—General announcements about the program and organization.
- For Providers—Keep your inbox clean and receive only emails specially selected for treatment and medical providers.
- A 7-page packet perfect for women who are interested in learning more about the New Life Program.
- Can be used as handout and foundation for psychoeducational discussion session as well.
- Retail is $9.95, eligible for 10% with Professional Coupon Code.
- Contains three booklets and two workbooks.
- Perfect substitute for a “first step” packet for clients who wish to use the New Life Program as their primary program.