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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Relapse is Waiting.


The specter of relapse, in its many guises, hides in unexpected places waiting for all of us. And if we're prepared, if we're spiritually fit, we’re able to fend off the temptation.

But this weekend, a former manager with over 90 days sober forgot the tools he learned and got drunk. Also a few others, some with considerable education in how to stay clean and sober, followed suit.

Once again, this illustrates the pitfalls that face us if we don't apply what we know. Those of us who've been sober 15 or 20 years face the same temptations as anyone else. The only difference is that we’re able to apply the tools we've learned in the 12-step programs and other educational settings.

When times are tough, or emotions are running high, our first choice is not relapse. We make the choice to stay sober no matter what. We may go to a meeting. We may call our sponsor. We may talk to a friend. But one thing we don't do is pick up a drink or drug. Because then we not only have the same problems that inspired us to pick up the drugs – now we also face the prospect of getting sober again.

A memory that helps keep my sobriety in perspective is to recall how demoralized and beaten down I was when I first stumbled into a detox January 13 of 1991.

I had seventy-three cents in my pocket. I’d lost my car. I'd lost my corporate job. I was homeless. Plus I was facing criminal charges for minor offenses committed while drinking and drugging. It’s as clear to me today as it was nearly 22 years ago.

Whatever happens in my life – I don't want to start over.