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, October 24, 2010

When TLC started some 19 years ago we weren't given much chance. We started with no funding, little experience and five beds. As the founder, I worked an outside job and put my salary into getting the program started. This effort paid off because within 18 months we had over 100 clients.

Today we have 700 beds, operate a couple of small businesses, and have a lot more experience in how to run a large program without government funding. Oh, it's not easy. Since early 2008 we've terminated some 50 employees, have sold 20 vehicles, and have held off paying rent to some landlords. Yet we keep hope alive and are doing our best to meet obligations. We've made arrangements with many of our creditors to suspend payments until times are better.

The thing that likely makes the biggest difference, is that our mission is still the same: to help recovering substance abusers rebuild their lives. This mission gives us the motivation to show up every day and keep doing what we're doing.

When I get gloomy or let pessimism creep in, I turn my focus back to our mission. I believe we'll succeed because we are helping people. There are so many addicts and alcoholics who don't know how to get help, who don't have the resources to get help, that a program like ours serves a great purpose.

They don't need money or credit to get in. They just have to be willing to follow suggestions and and want to change. Even though half of them don't last longer than a few weeks the ones who do stay make it all worthwhile.

We have naysayers in the recovery community who think we should have psychologists and government oversight to assure we treat our clients well. We think this is a great idea and are ready to put these kinds of measures into place as soon as they hand us a check.