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.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Form of Denial?

Sometimes the most difficult thing for addicts is focus on sobriety.

When things get tough they start looking at everything but why they're in the program. The food’s not that great. I wake up too early. This program charges too much. The list goes on and on because it's a way for addicts to avoid facing themselves.

Those concerned about living conditions, food, or the cost of treatment, never had those thoughts when they were out there smoking crack, getting drunk, or shooting heroin. They were okay sleeping on someone else's dirty couch. Or in the back of an abandoned car. Or eating whatever they could scrounge, either by panhandling or stealing. They might live in a cockroach-ridden apartment, eating Ramen Noodles. At that point the only priority was being out of their minds and satisfying their addictions.

And because sobriety and recovery is a scary thing all of a sudden they focus on externals. We've had people who used to sleep on park benches who’ll complain about a Serta mattress not being exactly the right thing for them sleep on. And we’ve had those who subsisted on stolen Circle K hotdogs who all of a sudden think they're eating too much pasta or chicken.

Before I knew what I now know about recovery I didn't understand this. But today I recognize this as soon as a subtle – or maybe not-so-subtle – form of denial.