Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Motivation is a powerful force in changing our lives. Many years ago I knew an addict named George who was serving an eight-year prison term for burglary at California's San Quentin prison. George was a disciplinary problem and was constantly being written up for various infractions. He had a fourth grade education.

But one day something happened to George. At that time there was a brown power group in the prison. They gave their followers the mantra that education would give them power. This idea kindled a fire in George. He enrolled in school and began making use of his time.

George finished elementary school in a year. He then enrolled in high school and graduated within a year and a half. At that time the prison paid for college correspondence courses for prisoners. George took advantage of these and started earning credits. He eventually earned parole.

The last time I heard of George he had earned his doctoral degree and was the keynote speaker at an international conference in San Francisco.

I use George's story sometimes in our peer groups to illustrate the power of motivation. I like this story because it illustrates how change can begin with just a spark of inspiration.

I explain that it's important for us to read recovery literature. It's also important to go to 12 step meetings and hear the stories of others. When we hear stories of how others succeed we might find the inspiration to change our lives.