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.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Look in the Mirror


A client with a long history of alcoholism and drug abuse, who was sent to treatment by his employer, surprised no one this week when he announced he was leaving.

Although no one asked for an explanation, he explained at length that he had to take care of his children, that he didn't like congregate living, his girlfriend needed his help, and so forth.

None of us was surprised because while in the program this man never focused on the real issue: himself. He had complaints about the quality of the food at TLC. His bed was uncomfortable. His roommates were too noisy. He was worried about his children. He was concerned about his girlfriend.

But he never – as was suggested more than once – looked in the mirror at the source of his problems.

Probably the one of the biggest lessons we learn in successful recovery is that we're responsible. No one else put drugs in our arms. Or poured alcohol down our throats. No one forced us to drive drunk. No one suggested we show up at the job under the influence.

What this man fails to realize – and he may realize it one day – is that if he works on his recovery everything else will work out. We have many clients who focus on finding a job and getting back to where they used to be before their disease took them down. 

And they seem to have a sense of disbelief when we suggest they work on their core issue, their sobriety. Then everything will work out as it should. It often takes a lot of failure for people to realize this key element of changing their life.

And when clients tell me of all the peripheral things they need to get their lives together, I tell them to let us know how that works out