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.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The 12th step of our program suggests we “carry this message” to others. Many times our clients, after being with us a while, decide that they have "done enough."

One of the strongest principles of our program is reaching out, helping others to achieve sobriety. When people say they have "done enough" we look at this as a red flag. All of a sudden this client is not doing the things that helped him or her get sober.

When we confront them there are all kinds of excuses. They can't make a difference. They have a job. They found a sweetheart. They are just so busy. They don't have enough time sober. And they pull back from helping newcomers. But there are no good excuses for not carrying the message.

In our area there is a series of radio advertisements that encourage people to become foster parents. The advertisement is goofy, but effective. The foster parent says and does many stupid things while trying to be a good foster parent. However, he is not doing very well with it. The message is that a person doesn't need a lot of experience to be a foster parent. They just have to be willing to help a kid who needs a parent.

It's the same when we reach out to others in recovery. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to spend hours. We have to be willing. If we have a period of sobriety then we have something to share.

For the past 19 years I've been willing to carry the message. After all those years I'm no authority on the literature. My message often falls short. But the simple fact that I'm willing to reach out helps the other person.

And, remember, newcomers look to someone with even a year of sobriety as an expert when it comes to staying sober.