Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To help bolster my recovery I try to look for the positive in the world. As much as possible I stay away from from the negative. Sometimes it is difficult with all of the bad news coming from the TV screen, over the radio waves, and on the front pages of newspapers.

This week, though, I found a wonderful story, one that made my day. It was the account of three military veterans, who between them had only one leg. With this one leg and five prostheses they climbed the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. Some 3000 feet from their goal the older climber's prosthetic knee failed, yet he struggled on. This 19,340 foot mountain would challenge any able-bodied climber, yet this tough trio summoned the grit to reach their goal.

The three amputees - one 27, one 39, and the elder 62 - are veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They undertook their venture to raise money for Disabled Sports USA.

Stories like this feed my spirit. Daily I work with substance abusers who are mostly in new recovery. Many are depressed and feel sorry for themselves. Just cleaning their room and getting ready to go to work is a challenge for some. They return from a job-search beaten-down and completely negative. Relatively small challenges sometimes lead them to return to drug and alcohol use.

Most of the addicts I deal with in our program are physically healthy. The big challenge they face is themselves and combating the addictions that have derailed their lives.

I borrow stories like the one about these three soldiers to inspire them to do better. Sometimes stories like these help them – and me- keep things in perspective.