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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fear Not a Factor

The highly visible public decline, and death, of rock star Amy Winehouse is a tragic and graphic storyboard of the of the devastating effects of cocaine and alcohol. While her death might discourage some from overindulging, the reality of substance abuse is that fear doesn't keep addicts from using. Most addicts I know feel they are immortal. While bad health and death might happen to other people, many believe the rules "don't apply to me."

The factor that seems to change most of our clients is personal experience. Ongoing pain, the daily grind to obtain drugs or alcohol, trouble with the law, loss of jobs, continuing problems with family, friends and society seem to be factors that more often come into play .

"I got tired of being sick and tired," is a phrase often heard at 12 step meetings. Most addicts and alcoholics I know said they finally got tired of being miserable and demoralized. Most had tried for years to successfully use like friends who weren't addicts. But somehow they could never get it right. They kept spinning out of control over and over again. They would come to the end of a drug and alcohol run, totally demoralized and puzzled at the condition they were in. After going through this cycle several times then they were willing to change.

The sad death of this talented human being who had everything might illustrate the dangers of drugs to some young people and scare them straight. But the ongoing effort of addicts to recreate the bliss and ecstasy of that first hit or blast blinds them to the possibility of coming to a similar end.