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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Happened?

After completing more than seven years of recovery, and having worked as a TLC manager for many years, he picked up a drink.

And, of course, there were reverberations of shock because this man ran recovery groups. A man with a Masters degree in counseling. A man who sponsored others and was looked up to with regard throughout the program.

Yet when he was confronted after failing a breathalyzer test, he said "how could that be?"

And the manager who tested him picked up a nearby glass, half full of whiskey, and said something like "maybe this has something to do with it."

We offered him the opportunity to begin the Hard Six program again. But he declined. Presumably he's going to continue drinking and then eventually get back to his drug of choice: heroin.

So what happens when we seem to be sailing along in our recovery and suddenly relapse? In retrospect it's always easy to look at certain factors and say this is the reason he relapsed. In this man's case, his mother had passed away a few months earlier. And he recently started a new position with TLC. He had moved. These are changes that create a certain amount of stress.

But don't the 12-step programs somewhat inoculate us the face of stress and challenges? In most cases I would say yes. But for many of us, as it says so often in the literature, if we're not spiritually fit than we may use again.

While it's easy to do a postmortem on an addict or alcoholic who's relapsed it's not as simple as two and two equals four. But one thing is certain: no one forced this man to drink or use..

At some point he made a conscious decision to drink again. We pray that he makes it back.