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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Yesterday's a long one.

Clients seeking drugs from the nurse. Others whining about the rules. The emotional ones communicating with tears or anger. Others missing counseling appointments. Parents wanting to manage the program because they now know what their children need. A constant drone of wanting or needing something.

Some days are like that. Others are smooth. Everyone's participating in groups with enthusiasm and positive input. The counselors are getting along with one another. Clients are upbeat.

But the sum of it - both the positive and the negative - can grind on the nerves of those of us who work helping others. Some call it burnout. And unless we develop ways of coping it can get to any of us.

As for me, I visualize myself coated with Teflon, letting nothing stick to me. And it's worked for some 24 years.

And then there are positive things that renew us, give us energy. Like when I get home this evening I get a text message with a picture attached. It's from an unknown number, someone not in my contacts list.

The message says "Here's a picture of my 18 month chip. Thank you so much for saving my life."

I message back "Who is this?"

He sends his name and more information. He's back with the nationwide company he was fired from before coming to us. His family's together.

And I'm surprised because he was one of the tough ones who didn't get it. Who didn't think he had a problem. Who frustrated all of us. And now his life is back together.

As I end my day I'm reminded that this is what it's about - the ones who make it.

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