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, May 21, 2011

Learning the Basics

A client in group was talking about what he had learned while at TLC. What the man came out with surprised some of those in the circle.

"What I learned," the man said, "is how to make my bed for two weeks in a row."

While some might find this simplistic, many times TLC clients are learning the basics of daily life. Many come to our program not knowing how to make a bed or follow a daily routine. Many can't prepare a meal. Some can’t do laundry. A lot of them don't know how to fill out a job application. Or get a bus schedule together so they can look for a job.

Many are virtually starting life over. They arrive without job skills. They have no social skills. Saying “thank you” or “excuse me” is an alien concept. Their life has been focused on hustling drugs or alcohol.

Our approach is to build on what clients have – and in many cases that’s not much. We point out to them that they do have something going for them: they have the toughness that allowed them to survive in the tough drug sub-culture during their addictions. Often times the same negative perseverance that allowed them to survive in the drug world can be turned onto a path to rebuilding their lives.

Sometimes it’s a matter of getting them to change their point of view.