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.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Reflections

Last evening, while Christmas shopping, I was reflecting on the difference between my life 22 years ago and my life today.

22 years ago I was in the middle of my heroin addiction and alcoholism. I was homeless. I was living in a stolen car. I was shoplifting every day to obtain money for alcohol and drugs. I had a DUI and other pending criminal charges. I had hepatitis C.  I was a three time loser.   I was totally demoralized about my life, living under a black cloud of depression.

At some point, though, I had a moment of clarity.  I realized it was either prison or death – or sobriety.

Fear of the first two options forced me to get sober. I entered a detox and admitted I was alcoholic - something I'd never done.  I was willing to do whatever it took to change.

I never had a problem admitting I was a heroin addict. The evidence was there: I’d spent some 15 years locked up and another year in a mental hospital - all because of my heroin addiction.

But I didn't want to admit I was an alcoholic because I'd have to stop everything. Alcohol was my doorway to other drugs. In addition, I had a raging alcoholic father who died of alcoholism; I never wanted to be anything like him.

But then a merciful God gave me the strength to admit I was alcoholic. And, you know, from that point on I've never looked back.

My life totally changed. Even though I had no credit or cash, I purchased three houses the first year I was sober. I went from having a GED, to getting a degree in counseling psychology - then became a state certified drug and alcohol counselor. I developed one of the larger programs in the Southwest for recovering addicts and alcoholics.

I was able to invest in real estate. Today have a comfortable home. And best of all, a year ago I married a beautiful psychologist who is the center of my life.

I'm grateful for my blessings today - and to the many kind and loving people who've helped me get here.