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, January 28, 2013

Unlearning

One of our challenges at TLC is helping recovering clients live in the real world, to leave behind the prison or street cultures from which they came.

The reality is that much of our population spent years living outside the mainstream – either on the streets or confined in the justice system.

And they come to us from these environments with only the skills that helped them survive in that world, where much of what they learned was necessary and effective.

A challenge for many of these clients is the rule that they must tell management if another client is using – or doing anything illegal or underhanded. People who tell on others in the world they came from are ostracized at the least and sometimes suffer a more severe penalty.

But the few who step across the divide and move into our culture of recovery often succeed. The toughness that allowed them to survive long enough to arrive at our door is the same toughness that will allow them to meet the challenges of living sober in the larger community.

Our job is to help them understand that – and to help them bridge that gap.