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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


A few weeks back a client who got drunk and overdosed on pills was put on restriction.

He was angry about his punishment. He claimed that all he’d done was drink Nyquil because he had the flu. At the same time he’d taken a few more of his sleeping pills than he should have. And maybe that’s why he overdosed.

He was so out of it that he didn’t remember the police and paramedics coming. Nor did he recall how he’d gotten to the hospital.

Because Nyquil contains alcohol we couldn’t determine if he was telling the truth or not about drinking. However, not using his pill prescription as directed qualifies as a relapse.

In any event, he was allowed to return to work the following week.

Then last weekend a few clients told us he smelled of alcohol. At first he refused to submit to a test. But when told he’d have to leave the program if he didn’t submit, he relented. And the test came back positive.

After that he was taken to detox for the night. The next morning he returned to the program.

This man’s drinking and drug use shows the power of our disease. He has a responsible, well-paying, job that he’s had for years. A job that’s in jeopardy if doesn’t complete treatment. He has dependents to care for.

Yet he’s willing to let everything go because he has to drink and get high.

Most of us in recovery today can relate to this man, because we did similar things until we got over our denial and into recovery. We hope he does the same thing.

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