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.

Monday, April 22, 2013


A text message from an employee this evening told of the death of his former girlfriend from a heroin overdose – a woman with whom he'd been for five years.

While I never met her personally because she lived in another state, I spoke with her several months ago. At that time she called with an angry message about our employee. She was very upset and made a lot of unfounded accusations against him. I was finally able to calm her down and have a fairly coherent discussion with her, though she sounded like she was under the influence of something.

Later she sent an apology about the conversation and that's the last I heard from her.

It's always a stark reminder to those of us in recovery when someone suddenly dies from an overdose. We are promised over and over in the 12-step literature that something like this could happen to any of us if we fail at recovery.

But the other side of the equation is that fear doesn't help us get clean and sober. In my experience, what helps us get clean and sober is the promise of a better life. A life of freedom from arrests. A life where we're able to be an example to our children. Where we can be of service to the community and help right the wrongs we committed while we were out in the world drinking and drugging and creating chaos.  A life free from demoralization.

This 35 year old mother of two sadly will never experience the joy and freedom many of us have found in recovery.

All of us at TLC offer our condolences to our employee and to her family and friends.