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, January 21, 2016


Yesterday we were in San Diego on a business/pleasure trip.

It's a beautiful and prosperous city. Hustling. Bustling. Activity and construction going on. Majestic sky scrapers and hotels make up a skyline that overlooks the bay. One sees and hears a mix of cultures on the streets. Exotic languages and colors. Maybe tourists here visiting for business or pleasure.

Yet in the midst of it all this prosperity is another culture. Alcoholics, addicts, and the mentally unbalanced. Somehow this culture doesn't fit.

One man wanders to the trolley station, the top of a beer can sticking out of a brown paper bag. A middle-aged woman sits cross-legged on a street corner. She's waving her arms and talking to no one in particular. A disheveled man struggles down the street, pushing a shopping cart with a huge pile of crap strapped to it.

This culture doesn't mesh with all this wealth. Yet in America we have a right to be drunk, high, or homeless. So passersby ignore them like they're invisible. Step around them. It's like they don't exist.

In my head I entertain a fantasy scenario where I'm somehow able to help them. But I know my compassion isn't practical.

I don't know about the mentally challenged. But I know that when addicts have enough pain they'll find help. If they survive long enough.  Life will convince them.