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 30, 2014

Insanity Returns

A client who's been at TLC for much of the past 15 years fails an alcohol test a few days ago.

For those of us who've been here a while it's a disappointment rather than a shock. He's relapsed so many times it's hard to keep track.

It's a disappointment, though, because this client is intelligent and well educated. He has computer skills and a counseling degree. He has a good personality and many friends. He knows as much as anyone about twelve step programs.

But he can't stay sober.

He'll get a few years of sobriety, a job, then all of a sudden he’s drinking and smoking crack. And he does this until he's at death's door. Then he drags himself back to TLC, full of remorse and serious about change.

So what do we do? If he survives this run we'll probably help him again.

After all, many of us failed over and over until we finally got it.  Then someone helped us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Investing in Ourselves

A man I've been talking with for a month wants to get into the program. But he lets me know he's done some research about recovery.

"I know that all I need is 30 days in treatment," he tells me.

I find his statement interesting because the man’s been drinking for years. And most of the time when he's talking with me he seems to be under the influence.

What this man's experiencing is not uncommon. In fact, it happened to me. I also thought I knew what I needed.

When I tried getting sober in 1991 my plan was to stay in a halfway house for 30 days. Get a job. Find a girlfriend. Rent an apartment. Then leave. But that's not the way it worked out.

When I reached the 30 day mark I realized I knew little about recovery. So I made a commitment to stay another 30 days. Then 90 days.

Finally I ended up staying a year because that's how long it took me to get a solid foundation in recovery.

I realized early on that I couldn't heal years of addiction overnight. It would take time to change my thinking and my behavior.

Today, 23 years later, I know it was worth every minute of my time.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Nothing Better to Do

A newcomer on probation says he has “nothing better to do" with his life than to go to 12-step meetings.

His comment inspires others at the meeting to agree.

One man pointed out that the best thing he does is attend meetings. His recovery is the “most important thing" in his life.  Even more important than his marriage, his business, and his family,

And for those who raised their eyebrows at this, he went on to explain that without recovery the rest simply disappears.

We alcoholics and addicts know the truth of this statement. At one time we had everything. We thought we were having a good time getting wiped out. But one day we stepped over that line. What was once “fun” became a nightmare, a living hell.

Most of us lost everything. Our families ran us off. Our jobs and homes disappeared. Friends gave up on us because they didn't know what to do. Many of us lost our freedom.

Those in recovery can agree that the most important thing we do is go to meetings and work on rebuilding our lives.

Click here to leave a comment

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wise Choice

A young client planning to move in with his treatment girlfriend when he graduates changed his mind.

His plans changed when he heard she'd started using drugs.

A friend helping her move into her new place discovered drug paraphernalia in the bathroom.

The client canceled graduation plans and is staying longer.

But what if he hadn’t learned about her drug use? He likely would’ve moved in. Then discovered that she’d started using. Would he have been strong enough to resist? Maybe. Maybe not.

Scenarios like this are why we caution clients about treatment relationships.

It’s one thing to know someone in a treatment program on their best behavior. It's another to know them in the real world. A world where they’re facing the kinds of stressors that brought them to treatment.

As to the girlfriend, she left the program early because she couldn't get along.

Does she seem an attractive candidate for a long-term relationship?

Click here to leave a comment

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Condolences

A few days ago a long time manager learns that his 54 year old father died.

Not much more than that. Just that he died suddenly in a shed behind the house where he was staying.

And because his father introduced him to meth when he was a teenager he suspects the death wasn't by natural causes.

The last time he saw his dad four years ago in a Phoenix park he bought him clothes. Since then, no communication. Not really an emotional bond.

This manager has no remaining relatives from his father's generation. They mostly succumbed to drugs or alcohol. That includes his mother, who died of alcoholism when he was a teenager.

But he was lucky enough to escape the family legacy when he got sober many years ago. Since then he’s married. He and his wife are raising two children; they enjoy a nice home in the suburbs.

The children have never seen them drunk or high. They’re able to help others in recovery. They live the Promises.

Our condolences on the loss of his father.

Click here to leave a comment

Friday, April 25, 2014

Government Heroin?

Late last year I received an email from a social worker from Bern, Switzerland.  He was to be in the United States in about six months.  Could I make time for him to tour our program?   I told him yes. Then forgot about it.

Well, he showed up this week.  And I learned interesting things about how his country deals with drug addicts.  Their approach radically differs from ours.

Treatment isn't the primary focus.  Their approach is "harm reduction."  Government mandated insurance provides heroin, cocaine, and other drugs.  The drugs are essentially free. But clients must use them on the premises.  They can hang out for the day if they choose.  Or they can get their fix and go to work.

My visitor from Switzerland says the public supports the program.   That's because addicts aren't cluttering the prisons. Or stealing from merchants. Or spreading hepatitis and HIV

To learn more about how Switzerland deals with addicts click here.

Click here to leave a comment

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our surrogate Family

The recovery community is a safety net when we’re in trouble.

This week a man I've attended meetings with for years placed his adult son in a hospice. The son, also sober a long time, is losing his battle with hepatitis C.  He lapsed into a coma during the past week.

Recovery friends rallied around, offering encouragement. He's received a lot of love.

Over and over I see this caring when members are in trouble. Recently recovery friends stepped up to help a member who was in the final stages of an illness. They helped pay her bills. They built handicapped access in her home, and did other things to make her life more comfortable.

In this way 12-step members act as a surrogate family. They’re the ones who understand us. They listen to our sad stories without judgment.

When we face challenges they’re at our side, letting us know we're not alone.

Click here to leave a comment

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Being Responsible

With responsibility as a group topic we get interesting responses.

Of course a few group members are responsible. Because they understand that responsibility covers all areas of their lives.

But others somehow believe they're responsible simply because they quit using. If they just mind their own business. If they do what they have to do - but no more.

The reality is that responsibility goes beyond just not using. It goes beyond taking care of just me. It goes beyond doing as little as possible - and that's all.

Responsibility means we reach out. We contribute to the larger community. We become contributors. Not takers.

One man thought he was being responsible by seeking a new job. He saw it as a way to better himself. Of taking responsibility.

But in the process he didn't give his boss notice he was taking a day to look for another job.  He left him hanging.

Someone explained it would have been responsible to give his boss notice when he wasn't going to show up. After all, the boss gave him a job when he needed work.

Being a member of the human race is about being responsible for our impact on others. Being responsible is doing no harm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lottery Winner!

I laughed the other day when I heard a rumor going around the program that I’d won the lottery a few years back. The success of the program supposedly came from my windfall.

But I've never won a pile of money. I don't even play. In  a sense, though, I did win the lottery when I got sober in 1991. What are the odds of that?

After all, there's no particular reason God would smile upon me when he did.

In the scheme of things I was just another middle-aged addict with little hope of a better future. Then I had a moment of clarity – from who knows where – that led me to a detox here in Mesa, Arizona. How mysterious.

When I got sober in 1991 I had 73 cents in my pocket. I was living in a stolen car. I was homeless. I was stealing every day to obtain alcohol and drugs.

Success didn’t come easily. But I’d determined to do something different. I had a burning desire to change. And I took advantage of every opportunity that came to me once my head cleared.

Today I am one of those who's blessed. I'm one of the "lucky" ones.

If that's winning the lottery, then that is what happened for me.

Click here to leave a comment

Monday, April 21, 2014

Years of Experience

A man I’ve known throughout my recovery celebrated 34 years yesterday by speaking at a meeting.

He told a compelling story.

He started out at a Valley treatment hospital. Even though he was a high-bottom drunk, he was heading to disaster when he entered treatment.

He was facing multiple issues. His family was about to leave. He was trying to file for bankruptcy but couldn’t find a lawyer to take the case. His health was failing to the point where he at times was incontinent. His vision wasn’t what it used to be. He was seeing a psychiatrist.

The turning point was when he began attending 12-step meetings. A few days after he left the hospital he was in his office, so stressed he felt like killing someone.- maybe even himself. Shortly afterward he found himself at a 12-step meeting in a nearby town.

He attended that meeting daily for some time. Eventually the insanity left. He’s gone to thousands of meetings since then and attributes that to saving his life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

You don't Understand

A new client who came from a treatment program in another state is ecstatic because her "boyfriend" is due to arrive in a few days.

But the house manager's response disappoints her.  Because she tells the client she can't be in a relationship for 45 days.  Those are program rules.

"But you don't understand," exclaimed the client.  "We love one another."

To convince the manager to change her mind she explains they'd met in the other treatment program.  And their love affair had been going on for at least 30 days.  Still, her argument didn't convince the manager.

So why do we care if clients date one another?  Well, for one reason a relationship sidetracks the client from recovery.  A love affair, especially a new one, is just as powerful as a drug in taking away one's focus.

Over the past 22 years at TLC we've seen many recovery relationships.  Albeit, at times they work out.  But 99% of the time they turned into more wreckage to clean up down the road.

After all, what's the big hurry?  If the relationship or friendship is on a solid foundation it can wait for 30, 60, or 90 days.

No parent has ever told their child that they should go to the local treatment program and look for a good man or woman.  In fact, the idea that their child will graduate from a recovery program with a new addict in their life is maybe a parent's worst nightmare.

Click here to leave a comment

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Six Years!

One of our managers celebrated six years of recovery yesterday. In his arms was his infant son. At his side was his fiancée. Present were many friends and fellow employees in recovery.

After he blew out the candle on his anniversary cake he spoke of how he stays sober. Among the things he mentioned was that he practices 12-step program principles in his daily life.

While his story is not unique, many remember when this man came to TLC from prison with the idea of re-building his life. He had nothing much more than the clothes on his back.

From the time he stepped onto the property he worked hard, went to meetings, and began living a different life.

He’s never backed down from the most challenging jobs that TLC has thrown his way. While working, he doesn’t just get the job done. He also carries the message to the hard six staff who often work on his crew.

He walks as an example of recovery for those of us around him.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Recovery Roommates?

A group of clients came up with what they think's a great plan.  And the plan is get a large house together, maybe with a swimming pool, and share expenses.
After all they know each other well.  They spent some 60 to 90 days together in recovery.  And some were together in another program before coming to TLC.
They're all serious about their recovery. They go to a lot of meetings.  How can anyone quibble with a plan like this?
Well I, for one, don't think it's a great idea.  I've seen this happen many times over the past 23 years.  Two clients, maybe three, will pool their resources to cover living expenses.
Now for so-called ordinary sober citizens this might be a great idea.  When we try to do this with someone we meet in a recovery program or halfway house it rarely works.  At least, that's been my experience.
I can't disagree that these clients know each other well.  After all, they've lived together in close quarters for several months.  But, that's not like in the real world.
In the real world when we're roommates other factors come into play.  Maybe a roommate loses his job.  Is the other roommate willing to pay the whole lease payment?
 What if the roommate's a slob?  In the recovery program they kept their area clean because they had to.  Do they pick up after themselves when they're living on her own?  What if they bring in guests to spend the night?  Is that okay with the other roommate?
Who's buying the food?  Who's cleaning up the kitchen?  The bathroom?
Then comes the big question: who makes the lease payment when a roommate relapses?
These are things to consider before one takes on a roommate who's in recovery.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Frustration

An overweight client with congestive heart failure seems unwilling to do anything about his condition.

Friends at TLC offered to help him develop better eating habits. Others have given him literature about weight loss. Some have talked to him about exercise.

He accepts the advice and literature in good spirit, acting as if he wants to change. But the next moment he’s eating something that shows he’s not serious.

On one occasion he was in a long discussion about wanting to lose weight. Then fifteen minutes later someone saw him eating a plate of pastry.

Within the past month he’s been to the hospital twice because of problems with his heart and blood pressure. His weight makes it painful for him to walk.

It's frustrating to deal with addicts - like this man - who have issues besides substance abuse. For one thing our experience and expertise is with addicts and alcoholics with the motivation to change.

We can only wish him well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Helping?

A distressed family came to the rescue again for a client who was leaving the program because his insurance ran out.

This time they used a line of credit on their house to extend his stay.  That's because they’d spent their cash resources for his previous trips to rehab.

The parents are high-earning professionals who at one time had it all. But their son’s many trips to treatment centers drained their finances. Their savings finally dried up. Their credit cards are to the limit.

This is a scenario we sometimes see here in the program. Parents who are unwilling to take a position with their offspring. They act as if they throw enough money at the situation it will help. But it seldom does.

Over the past 23 years I've seen families brought to financial ruin trying to help their children.

But there are the smart ones who know how to draw a line. They’ll pay for the first rehab. But after that they realize the problem might lie with their child’s unwillingness to change.

They help their children confront reality by not going to the extreme to help them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learning Responsibility

A client lamented last week because he had to file a tax return.
My response was to remind him that for several years he didn’t have to worry about filing.  People in prison don’t earn enough to worry about such things.  Nor do we bother with these things when we’re in our addictions.
A reality of living in recovery is that we become responsible for things we used to avoid.   We start paying bills.  And paying them on time.  Taking care of an automobile.  Paying back child support and old student loans.  Become responsible in our relationships.  We take care of our health.
And in return we no longer live in fear and demoralization.  We don’t hide from bill collectors.  When the phone rings we answer. 

We begin to enjoy peace and serenity.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Doing the Work

TLC is mostly managed by the clients.

Well that might seem counterintuitive, it's a structure that's worked for over 20 years.

And it evolved like this: Many of the clients of 22 years ago wanted more than a place to crash. More than a typical halfway house where most anything goes as long as the rent is paid.

So they came up with some ideas. One of these ideas was the level system. In this system clients assumed more responsibility the longer they stayed in the program.

Levels helped the newcomers get involved in the program. They became group leaders. They set curfew times. They developed a chore system. Structure of the program now is based on what happened in those early days.

Clients also came up with business ideas that are in place today. One of these is the Inconvenience Store which has operated profitably for over a dozen years. Another is the labor group, which was started to help clients find work.

Around 100 clients work in various management positions. Among these are district managers, house managers, assistant managers, drivers, security guards, cooks, store managers, maintenance workers, and so forth.

The corporate office has ten employees who take care of such things as bookkeeping, donations, and filling job orders for the labor group.

It takes a lot of effort to help 700 clients with their recovery. And we couldn’t do it without these volunteers.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sharing what Works

The client sitting in my office has a long resume of crime and drug use. He walked prison yards for much of his life. When he was free he immersed himself in drugs and alcohol and crime.

Yet that kind of life no longer works. And that's why he's in my office. He's sick of the lifestyle that's robbing him of his freedom and sapping his health.

So how can I help? I'm not really sure. I'm never sure, because when we're helping people there's no black and white way to do it. For me it's more of an intuitive thing. So I start with the fact that he's willing to do something different. That he wants to change and needs direction.

I share with him what works for me. Tell him about compassion for others, that being compassionate will help him heal. I talk to him about losing ego because our ego is our worst enemy. And, above all, I suggested he try to walk in gratitude. Because gratitude is a protective shield – especially for those of us in recovery.

These are new ideas for someone with his background. But he says he’ll be back next week.

Click here to leave a comment

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making Progress

A client who spent half of his life in prison for crimes he committed while supporting his drug habit stops by my office for a chat.

He speaks with pride about the progress he’s making with his job. He talks about saving money for clothes. He’s trying to get insurance for his medical needs. He might work on his driver’s license. All pretty basic stuff for the average person.

But for a man in his fifties who spent much of his life in the prison and drug sub-culture these are big deals. He’s an alien navigating a new life with strange values like honesty, sobriety, and caring about others.

He says he sometimes walks an emotional tightrope. He has to remind himself he’s living in a new world. When frustrated, he resists the urge to return to the old life where he knows the rules. Where life, even though harsh, is simpler for him.

I encourage him to be patient, to take what TLC has to offer. To enjoy what’s left of his life.

And to let the Promises unfold for him as they have for so many of us.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Gratitude

A simple tool to bring us to a spiritual place is a focus upon gratitude. More than anything a sense of gratitude lowers stress and keeps us on the path of recovery. And gratitude is easy to bring to the forefront.

But some of you reading this might ask "what the hell do I have to be grateful for?"

You may be thinking of problems at work. Or maybe you don't even have a job. Your relationship might be crazy. Or you might not have one to be crazy about. You might be living in a halfway house, after having relapsed for the umpteenth time. You may look around your so-called life and not see a single thing to be grateful for. But there is room for gratitude.

Sometimes to find it we must look at the bigger picture, at the world around us. Look beyond ourselves. And when we do that we can find those living with real challenges.

There are homeless people facing a hot summer on the streets. There are those – some of them children – living with serious or terminal illnesses. There are those in other countries who have no hope of ever living as well as we do here. When I think of the real challenges that others live with it's easy for me to bring myself into gratitude.

To bring ourselves into sync we can simply take a deep breath, close our eyes, and do a 30 second inventory of our blessings.

It's one way to bring ourselves into gratitude.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Promises coming True

Much of what I write here is about newcomers. About the challenges they face in the early days of recovery. I often talk about what happens when they relapse in hopes that others might not follow the same path. And once in a while I write about successes in recovery.

And over the past few days I've seen several examples of success. For example, I was in a meeting with four business people, all in recovery. Between them they had over 100 years of recovery. They're married. They have nice homes. They've built successful businesses. Three of them, own over 100 pieces of real estate between them. Two own multiple businesses.

They are all still active in recovery. They work with newcomers. They are glowing examples of the promises coming true for those in recovery.

Yet they are like anyone else in recovery. A couple were homeless. Two spent time in jail. All started in recovery with almost nothing. None have a strong educational background.

Yet they stayed clean and sober and their lives got better. Any of us can do what they've done – once we get into serious recovery.

Click here to leave a comment

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ceased Fighting

In the 12-step literature we find the phrase "we ceased fighting anyone or anything..."

I took it at face value. I believe it means I should stop fighting everything.

To get clean and sober I stopped fighting and said I was powerless. Over and again I learned how powerless I am. Once my habit got rolling it didn't stop until I was unable to find something to drink or put in my arm. Usually that time came when I was behind bars.

So I interpret the word "anyone" in that phrase to include me. Because when I stopped fighting with myself, and surrendered, everything became better. And even today when I get into trouble it's because I haven't accepted that life is perfect just as it is. That God gets along fine without me as a co-pilot.

As soon as I let myself sink into acceptance about whatever’s going on, then life becomes okay again.

The fighting is over...

Click here to leave a comment

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This is Life

A topic in group last night was how difficult it is to make changes in our lives.

One man was having challenges quitting smoking. Another spends his free time playing video games or watching television, something he'd thought of changing. Yet another, a diabetic, was struggling with his diet.

What is the magical quality, the magic ingredient that gets us on fire? How do we shuck our bad habits? Is it only pain that makes us change? I have no answer.

Most of these addicts have known for a long time about the challenges they are facing. Yet their common mantra is that "it's hard to change." And indeed it is.

My common response is that this moment is not a dress rehearsal for life. This is life. And each moment we waste is gone forever. If we don't use this moment wisely then we’re wasting our lives.

Does that mean we have to spend all our time being serious? And working? No. Sometimes the most productive thing we can do is relax and enjoy our surroundings and friends.

But to succeed we must make an effort to achieve the things we want. I've often heard that the best and most lasting changes are slow and incremental.

But if we're sitting around waiting for someone to rescue us from ourselves, we're going to have a long wait.

And disappointment.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Defeating Anxiety

In a therapy session a client wanted to work on her anxiety.  As we started, I asked how she defined anxiety.  While she had an idea because she was apprehensive and nervous, it wasn't as clear to her as it might have been.

So I shared an analogy given me by a therapist.

He said that when we're in anxiety it's like rehearsing for a play.  We're imagining these terrible things that might occur at some distant time.  We are rehearsing in our heads for this drama that will never open on Broadway.  Or, for that matter, any other theaters.  And I liked his analogy so much that I pass it on others because it's so clear.

When we spend our precious moments thinking of terrible events that may never come to pass we're wasting our time.

And while the same analogy doesn't apply, we're also wasting our time excavating into our past.  We addicts have done things we're ashamed of.  But sifting through them as if they have some value for us today is a waste.

The secret to combating both of these anxiety and depression producing habits is to live in the moment.  If I find myself in one of these states of mind I take a deep breath and remember that my power lies in being present right now.  

There's nothing I can do at the moment about my unfounded fears of what might happen.  Nor can I do anything about the wreckage I left behind, other than make amends.

For peace of mind – and for my recovery – I live as much as possible in this moment.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Face from the Past

An employee, while returning home on the bus yesterday, saw a man who looked familiar. However, he couldn't recall his name.

He said he had a two week growth of facial hair. He also had a ripe body odor, as if he hadn't showered in some time. And he might have weighed 120 pounds.

But once the man spoke he recognized him as a former client and employee who relapsed around five years earlier.

After he left he’d periodically appear on the “Mug Shot of the Day” contest on the Maricopa County Jail website.

It was sad to hear of this man's condition because at one time he was doing the right thing and was a valued employee at TLC. He'd come to the program from state prison. Later, one of his addict sons came to the program after paroling from the same prison system.

For a long time both did well. It appeared they’d finally figured out how to stay away from methamphetamines. Then came relapse and a quick spiral back into insanity.

These kind of encounters are a sad reminder of how life changes once we relapse.

At least he knows where to go if he wants to start over.

Click here to leave a comment

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It Happens

As I walked into my office this morning I encountered a former client I hadn't seen in some time.

As we chatted he brought me up to date on changes in his life.

Although he'd been homeless for years before he came to TLC he now lives in a nice home in an exclusive subdivision. He has his own vehicle. He has a bank account. He has a secured credit card that will turn to unsecured within the year. He has a woman in his life. He’s had the same job for over 18 months, the longest he's worked for a company. He's studying to get his CDL, which will allow him to find a better paying job.

His story is a miracle. When he came to us the first time, years ago, there didn't seem to be much hope. In fact, shortly after I met him, he said he felt like drinking and went back to the streets.

However, he eventually returned to give it one more try. And this last time he worked diligently to change. He sought additional help outside our program for his mental health issues. Even though he struggled at times he did what we expected of him. It took him a few years to turn his life around. And today he's reaping the benefits.

He's an example of why we never give up on anyone. As long as they're trying we're 100% with them.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gratitude Email

Following is an email from a former client with an update on her progress. Her name is omitted to protect her anonymity.

I publish these every once in a while to show that recovery – and TLC – works for those who follow the guidelines.

I came to TLC February 26, 2013 from Delaware. Not sure if you remember me but I worked at the office the last 3 months I was with TLC.

I left on September 15, 2013. Here it is April 3, 2014 and I'm still doing good. I celebrated one year on February 27th.. I am still in contact with Miss Rebecca and a few of the ladies that I met on my journey to a new beginning.

I just wanted to write to you to let you know that I'm still grateful for TLC and the lessons that I had to learn while I was there. I am now working. Paying to have my car fixed and in two weeks all of my fines will be paid off.

I'm feeling wonderful about life. I don't always like what's going on with or around me but I deal with it today. Since I've been home I have lost 7 friends to addiction and I thank God I don't have to live like that anymore. Thank you again!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Marijuana Maintenance?

A few clients who used heroin or cocaine as their drug of choice tested positive for other drugs after being clean for a while. Among these drugs are alcohol and marijuana.

"I'm not going to stop smoking marijuana," said one client. "I've been smoking for a long time and it's never caused me issues."

Another, who had a serious heroin addiction, tested positive for alcohol more than once. His rationale is that alcohol is legal. And again, it caused no problems in the past.

Besides being unacceptable at TLC, experience has shown this is a fool's game. After dealing with thousands of addicts over 23 years I've seen many try "marijuana maintenance" or “controlled drinking.” And the ones I've stayed in touch with haven’t had a lot of success. Albeit, I'm sure there are those who succeed in doing this. But I don't know them.

Many years ago, long before I got clean, I decided I could drink alcohol and stay away from heroin and other drugs. That would work for a few weeks. But, sooner or later, I’d be back in the spoon. It always led to disaster for this addict.

There's some part of my brain that likes to escape reality. But if I attempt to achieve that state with drugs or alcohol it never works.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Good Advice?

After relatively minor outpatient surgery last Monday I received messages from well-wishers.  And I appreciated those messages.  Some were from family, some from friends.
And I know they came with love and good intentions. Yet, one message I received left me with mixed feelings.
This message came from a recovery friend from out-of-state whom I'v known for years.  And during his call he gave health tips and advice about how to "take care" of myself. 
While I'm sure he's had the best of intentions, he doesn't always engage in healthy behaviors.
He's been sober a while and is about 60 pounds overweight.  He smokes.  He doesn't exercise.  And he spends much of his leisure time vegging in front of the television.  He has high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.
I won't follow his advice about healthy living.
It’s like someone giving advice about recovery when they can't stay sober themselves.
I resolve the conflict in my head by realizing his message was one of love.  And that I need to be nonjudgmental for my own serenity.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gratitude List

On my gratitude list today is to give credit to those who help TLC function. And I'm talking about those clients who stick around to work on their recovery program while at the same time serving TLC.

We find them in every corner of the program.

They are the cooks. The drivers. Night security people. You'll find them in a cubicle at the corporate office. They’re the district managers, the house managers, the assistant managers. About 75 of them.

They are the nuts and bolts of the program. They make things work. Without them, we wouldn't have a program.  And they're humble about what they do

But what do they get out of it? Not a whole lot in a material sense.

They get room and board. Their meals. Once in a while they get help with glasses or a medical issue. They receive a little WAM (walk around money). And they get a store credit.

But the more important thing is they get their life back - if they stick around long enough. They have a safe place where they can work on their recovery, buffered from the harsh reality of the street, the bars, and the dope houses.

It's a symbiotic relationship that works for them and TLC. For them I’m grateful.