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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The speaker at last Sunday’s meeting told how she, in addition to attending 12-step meetings, was also seeing a psychiatrist. She said she believed in getting all the help she could to resolve her problems and get her life on track.

One thing she said resonated with many of us at the meeting: while psychiatry can enhance one’s recovery it is expensive compared to 12-step programs - which are free unless one counts the amount we sometimes put in the basket.

I agreed. I once spent a year in a state hospital in California to resolve a drug-related probation violation. While there, I lived in a 24 hour therapeutic community, exposed to nearly 9,000 hours of therapy. Yet, when discharged I stopped and picked up a six-pack to drink on the way home. While taxpayers footed the bill for my treatment it was still costly in terms of the time I spent not working and supporting my children.

Once I entered a 12-step program and admitted I was an alcoholic, life changed. I stopped going to jail or being homeless. I had money, a car, a job and self-respect. My whole life changed and it didn’t cost me anything more than the time I spent going to meetings.

In terms of mental health I believe participation in 12-step programs will resolve the issues faced by most substance abusers - and at minimal cost compared to psychiatry.