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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Carrying the Message

The older gentleman at a 12-step meeting had been released from prison a week earlier. He’d completed an 11 year term and had no idea where to turn next. While he hasn’t drunk or used drugs since his release, he realized that it was a dangerous option for him. He understandably sounded depressed.

But as the meeting went on many shared their own stories of having spent years behind bars. Some had been in for ten and fifteen years. But they’d stayed in the rooms and worked the 12-step program. As a result, they were able to remain free.

One man who’d done a lot of time told of having gone to detox with only seventy-three cents in his pocket. He’d lost everything: home, job, car, clothes.

After detox he lived in a halfway house for a year. He rode a bicycle to go to work. Before long he bought a car, an old beater. He shopped at secondhand stores, slowly building up a wardrobe.

He worked a series of day labor and entry level jobs and saved money. Eventually he started a small maintenance business, one that thrived.  Then he was able to buy his own home. And a better automobile.

The man who'd just been released from prison listened intently to this man. And after the meeting he approached this man whose story was so much like his own. And they talked for half an hour or so.

That's the way it works in the rooms: one alcoholic or addict helping another..