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.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thoughts on Addiction

Half a century ago people looked upon addiction and alcoholism as a moral issue. The user could quit if they wanted. They could put down the bottle or the pipe if they just had the moral fiber.

And, indeed there are the exceptional few who can stop. I had a relative who drank whiskey every day for at least 50 years until a doctor told him it was harmful. And he didn't drink from that moment on. And he did the same with cigarettes. After 50 years he laid them down and never smoked again, dying years later of old-age.

But for most of us addicts it's more complex. Some of us grew up in homes where drugs and alcohol were the norm. I've known more than one addict who suffered from PTSD and other emotional issues because of childhood abuse. Lack of self-esteem or self-confidence is with them every day.

Even with four or five years of recovery, they still have the issues that made them want to use in the first place. And because most of our clients cannot afford treatment we offer them other ways to change. One powerful tool we use is mindfulness meditation.

University studies in Oxford, England have proved that a few minutes of mindfulness meditation is 20% more effective than depression medication. It's also more effective than other modalities for relapse prevention.  And far cheaper.

Mindfulness teaches us to look inward at our thinking. We learn to welcome the good and the ugly in our lives as simply life's path. And when we lay out the welcome mat for whatever pops into our mind we somehow steal its power to make us want to destroy ourselves with alcohol or drugs.