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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Important

In 20 years of sobriety I've learned to focus on my recovery. I've been asked what's the most important thing in my life. And my answer is always that it's my sobriety. I think they expect me to say something like my loved ones, my business, or my health.

My answer is always "sobriety" because without it I have nothing. All the work I've done over 20 years, all the relationships, and all of the things I've accumulated will disappear in a flash if I pick up a drink or a needle. I'm where I am today because I put down the bottle and gave up drugs. And when I started on this path I had zero. I was homeless. I had no friends. I was alienated from my family. I was living in a black hole of despair, thinking I might return to prison – unless I died first.

So I view the world pretty much like this: everything I have today flows from the centerpiece of my life - which is sobriety. For those who don't have a problem with drugs or alcohol this might seem to be a narrow focus. And I understand exactly where they're coming from, although I didn't at one time. I had to put myself in other people's shoes.

I didn't understand overeating, gambling, or shopping addictions. My answer was just quit. And that's because I didn't have those problems. If I'm to be compassionate I look at the addictions of others as I look at my own addiction.

Today I'm grateful for my blessings. And one of the main blessings is I'm able to use the 12 step programs to guide my life. There are many in the world who don't have the benefit of a structure to guide them. But those of us in the 12 step programs know what to do when we get in trouble.

It's all there in steps.