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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's not Simple

I get lots of emails and calls from loving people. Mostly mothers. But also wives, sons, daughters - and sometimes just friends.

They wonder what to do. How do they help their loved one get sober? To give up the drugs? To stop abusing themselves? To stop stealing from them?

But most of the messages are full of naiveté. They don't understand that it's not simple to help an addict or alcoholic. The disease is complex and sometimes defies solution. Even when the client is willing.

They kind of have it on a par with going to the doctor for a physical injury. The doctor patches it, sews it up, or writes a prescription and things get better.

I can feel the pain and love in their messages. I can sense their tears as they write the words.

And it’s hard to explain to them the work it will take for their loved one to change. It’s going to take more than simply removing the drug or alcohol.

Because once the addict leaves his drug of choice she/he enters new territory. The world of recovery has values one must embrace. It’s like moving to another country where one doesn’t know the language and customs. It takes time to adjust. It can be frustrating to grasp the new language and values.

But if one sticks with recovery they start realizing the benefits. The family returns. Self-respect comes back. Their bank account grows. They find peace. Responsibility becomes a way of life. They know about gratitude.

Soon they start sponsoring others, lifting them up. And when they reach out to others like this there's hope for long-term recovery.