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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Addicts Without Goals

Goals were once more the topic of our aftercare group last night and it was clear that many of us don’t know how to even begin to accomplish even the smallest goals.

When one client started talking about getting his license back he launched into a roundabout story of how he'd lost the license, the past efforts he’d made to regain the license and the jail sentences he’d served since he lost it and on and on. Finally, the facilitator intervened.

“What does all of this history have to do with getting your license back?”

The client looked puzzled at the interruption.

“I don’t know,” he finally responded. “I was just telling you what had happened.”

“The only important thing is what steps you’re taking to get your license back,” the facilitator said.

“I have to get money for fines before I go to court,” the client responded.

“Do you have a job?” the facilitator asked.

“Not yet.”

“So, your first step is to find work.” The client agreed and the facilitator led him through the steps he’d need to take to find employment.

Some of our clients have such a long history of drug and alcohol use that the even the simplest tasks can seem daunting to them. They’ll often spend months talking about achieving a goal without being willing to take the first step. Some of them seem to believe that discussing what they want is the same as actually moving toward their goal.

My admonition to them is to do something. Make a list. Make an appointment. Or go online. Set a deadline. Make a step, even a misstep.

After all, what's the worst thing that can happen?