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 29, 2013

Skewed Priorities

Today a newcomer approached me after a 12-step meeting and told me he’d just come into the program the day before. And that all he owned was the clothes on his back.

We chatted for a while, but most of his conversation was about work. He needed to get back to his job. All he needed was a desk. A telephone. A fax machine. He was well-regarded in his industry and connected with a lot of people who were willing to work with him because of his experience.

I listened to this for a while but finally interrupted him with a question.

“You’ve never had a problem finding work or making money, have you,” I asked him.

He agreed. He’s always been able to work and make a living.

“So work and money aren’t an issue?”

Again he agreed.

“So you know what your real issue is, right?”

He knew his problem was staying sober – something he’d never been able to do for long.

I write a lot on this theme. Nearly every male substance abuser I know focuses on work or a job.

And I point out each time that if we stay sober and clean jobs and money show up. It’s so redundant it’s a cliché.

And the one thing that usually shuts down these conversations is when I point out that attending a 12-step meeting is evidence that the job thing didn't work. 

Otherwise they wouldn't be at a 12-step meeting trying to figure out what went wrong.

Of course we need to work to survive.  But while recovery is work - work is not recovery.