Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th 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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going for 23

Almost twenty-two-years ago – the 14th of January, 1991, I admitted I was alcoholic. It was the watershed moment of my life.

There’s nothing I've done that's made such a difference. For years I went back and forth with my alcoholism. I didn't want to be an alcoholic. It was okay to be a heroin addict. Heroin addicts were cool in the fifties. But the idea of being an alcoholic - like my father and brother who both died from drinking - had no appeal. I knew I was a heroin addict, but wouldn't admit my alcoholism.

Eventually though, life intervened. I was drinking and drugging so much I had to face myself. I was homeless and headed back to prison. I was stealing each day to survive. I was living in a stolen car. When I drug myself into detox January 13, 1991 I was willing to do whatever it took - even admit being alcoholic.

I enthusiastically attended 12-step meetings. I went from detox to a halfway house. I found a job. I joined the YMCA. I began paying back child support.

Within a year I was on my feet – more or less. I laid the groundwork for TLC and started my own chain of halfway houses. I had a new career and a new life.

I think the real value I bring to the recovery world is a message to those who think they’re too old, or uneducated, or unhealthy, to get into recovery.

When I entered sobriety I was 51 years old. I had a GED. No money or credit. I had hepatitis C. I was a five time loser; three as an adult, twice as a juvenile. However, none of that stopped me. I made a determination that I wanted to change my life. 
Today I have a lovely wife, a circle of friends, successful businesses, and relatively good health – all because I’ve been sober 22 years. 

I think I'll go for 23...