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, January 19, 2013

What's the Difference?

Two former TLC clients came to visit yesterday.

One was homeless, wearing a raggedy, smelly topcoat. His hands were shaking. He looked like a scarecrow that had escaped from someone’s garden. He’d lost some fifty pounds since he walked out of the program several months early to rejoin the female drinking buddy he loved so much.

He pleaded with us – as he does each time – to let him return. But since he’d been here some six times, we couldn’t help him. His pattern was to stay until he regained some weight. Then he’d rejoin her in another death struggle with alcohol.

The last time they were both in the hospital within 30 days. We referred him to a homeless shelter because allowing him to keep coming in and out demoralizes other clients.

The second visitor was a client who’d graduated after six months in treatment. He was well-dressed, had a glowing smile. He was working at a new company, going to meetings and reunited with his family. He was the picture of health - a magazine cover for the benefits of recovery and sober living.

So how do two bright, well-spoken, intelligent men get such different results from the same program? There are no easy answers.

But a good guess might be that one surrendered and realized he was powerless. The other quite likely hasn't had enough pain yet.