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, September 29, 2011

No Defense

When he found the bag of dope at work the first thing he did was tell his boss. His boss told him to throw it away. But he didn't. He put in his pocket and knew that before long he'd open the package. After all, his best friend was in the bag.

But he didn't open it right away.  He took it home, put it on the shelf and went back and forth for a couple days before he finally opened opened it and greeted his friend - the devil drug that had always brought him down.

But for some reason the meth didn't do the same thing for him this time. Oh yeah, he get wired and stayed up all night. And no one noticed the change in his routine. He probably could've gotten away with it, went to work unnoticed. But he knew. Somewhere coursing through his brain was some 48 months of recovery information – and somehow it wasn't quite the same. So he went to one of the managers and confessed that he'd relapsed.

The manager asked him what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to continue to try to stay clean and sober. After a brief meeting with the other staff members it was determined he'd go into a more intensive part of the program for 30 days and then be reevaluated.

That night in an aftercare group he talked of the relapse. He said he put up no defense when he found the dope. He realized he'd relapsed as soon as he put the bag of poison in his pocket. It was only a matter of time before he opened the bag and did about half of it. The group probed him, seeking information to use if they ran into the same situation. They weren't trying to hurt him, to make him feel bad. They were trying to prepare themselves for a similar temptation.

One clear thing that came out was that the man who’d relapsed hadn't been working a program. He had a sponsor he didn't use. He wasn't connected to others in the 12 step programs. He couldn't name anyone he considered a friend. He hadn't developed the network that most of us do when we stay sober long-term. He wasn’t spiritually fit and therefore defenseless.

Those us who’ve been sober have a circle of friends who know us, people we can’t let down, people we reach out to when all else fails. When dope or alcohol tempts us they form a circle around us and give us the strength to resist.