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, May 26, 2011

I'm Responsible

The subject of last night's aftercare meeting was "self-responsibility." Clients were asked to complete the sentence, "self responsibility means to me..."

While a few of the dozen or so people in the circle had a rough time completing the sentence, most did quite well. After being in the TLC program for a while they've come to look at themselves as the source of their misery. When addicts and alcoholics begin to take responsibility for themselves things start to change. Any time I talk to a new client I pay close attention to who he blames for his problems. If he's pointing the finger at others, I know he has work to do.

"It's that bitch I'm married to."

"It's my parent's fault."

"The cops are always picking on me."

"It's because I can't find a job."

An addict serves up a whole litany of excuses for using. But in the final analysis we're responsible for our addictions. Yes, in our early lack of sophistication and knowledge about addiction we might use others as a catalyst to start using. But once we start looking in the mirror at who's really responsible then it becomes a matter of taking the time to reconstruct our lives and work on staying sober.

It was refreshing to hear clients cite the various things they've started doing since they became responsible. One man talked about going to meetings without being told. Another spoke of simple daily routines, like making his bed, cleaning up his living area, making sure that he was groomed and showered. Another spoke of taking care of health issues like dental problems. Still another spoke about going to a free anger management program that is offered in his part of town.

The idea that no one's coming to rescue us, that we're responsible for ourselves, is a critical first step in shedding the bondage of our addictions. If we look at ourselves as the main source of our misery then maybe we'll figure out how to stop the pain.