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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Disappointments – and rewards – are part of the landscape in the recovery business. And tonight it was a reward.

It came as I left our Roosevelt property after completing aftercare class. A man who’s had trouble staying sober over the past few years showed up looking healthy, a smile on his face.

For the first time he’s working the steps, being serious about his recovery. It was gratifying because this is a man who’s never given himself a break.

After going to prison as a teen he spent decades on the mean yards of Arizona prisons, living in an ugly limbo created by his youthful crimes.

And one day he walked out the gates to a culture of freedom he was unprepared for. The values were the opposite of what prison instilled in him.

He couldn't beat people if they disagreed with him. He couldn't take what he wanted. People said things like “excuse me.” It was a sudden immersion into a world he’d long forgotten.

He struggled to find work to support his simple needs: housing, food, the basics. And he found that alcohol and other drugs helped relieve the pressure.

Before long - instead of working or seeking work - he spent so much time drinking and drugging that he became homeless.

Today though he has a new home with us and is working on living in freedom - and recovery. It was good to see him making progress.