Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th 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.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sicker than Others

In the 12-step literature we read the phrase, "some are sicker than others..."

And it's not a phrase that I pay a lot of attention to. But it came to mind last week after I encountered a man who'd been in and out of our program several times. At the time I saw him, he was going over paperwork with his sponsor. It looked like they were doing some serious step work so I just nodded and moved on. It did my heart good to see him studying the steps, seemingly working hard on his recovery.
Then the next morning one of the managers reported this client had left again. Prior to his leaving they heard him on the phone talking to an alcoholic girlfriend, someone he'd been prohibited from communicating with as a condition of being in our program. Shortly after this conversation the client left his room, went to the parking lot and got into a car. That's the last anyone saw of him.

It truly saddens me to see this man leave under these terms. He's come to us half a dozen times, on death's door, pleading for help. The last few times we've let him come back it's been because we felt that if we didn't let him in he'd be dead within days. The last time he relapsed he'd lost something like 40 pounds in a matter of months and was totally confused. He was willing to do whatever necessary to get sober. And for a while he followed our guidelines and did what he was told.

When I see a man like this, who at one time held a high-level management position for one of the largest corporations in the United States, unable to stop drinking, I realize the power of our disease. 

In any event, seeing his struggle helped me stay sober this week.