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, June 23, 2016


In the midst of my morning walk I see a sixtyish man sleeping on a park bench near the beach. His long gray beard reaches almost to the grass beneath the bench. His clothing looks like it hasn't seen a washing machine in over a month. His nearby shopping cart is filled with stuff of no apparent value. Except maybe to him.

I immediately have flashbacks to over 25 years ago. That's when I was almost in the same shape. Sleeping in a stolen car. Stealing each day to get drugs and alcohol. I had no drive or motive for living. I think the thing that changed me was the pain of my existence. I still had enough brain cells left to know I could do better,

The town I lived in Arizona had a detox that cost nothing to get into. And once I left there after a week and a half I found a halfway house that took me in even though I was broke.

From there the blessings started. I lived in the haflway house for a year. And the day I left I opened TLC.

Among the blessings I have today is that I can reunite with 18 family members at Imperial Beach. Each year for the past 15 years we rent condos on the beach and socialize and relax.

I could have made other choices and kept doing what I was doing. But the will to live and do better made me change.

And one of the reasons I go to work every day at 77 is because I know there are others who can have a better life if they want it. And our job at TLC is to help them get there.