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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Seeing Myself

Something that's helped me last for over 25 years in the recovery field is that I started my addiction young. I started using in my teens and continued into my early fifties - around 38 years.

Now, mind you, that wasn't 38 years straight. For some 16 years of that time I was a ward of the state.. I was locked up periodically for possession and other crimes that go with using. And one of those years I spent in a State Hospital in Norwalk, California.

I bring this up because when we first started the outpatient clinic I was sometimes dismayed at the way clients acted. They would lie. Cheat. Steal. Break curfew and every other rule. Give us dirty UAs. I wondered why they were even there.

Then one day I realized I behaved the same way when I was in my twenties. I lied about everything. Stole. Cheated. During those years I - like many of our clients - was my own worst enemy.

Once I recognized myself in these young clients I developed a lot more patience. More tolerance. I'm much more willing to give a client who screws up another chance.

Today I realize it takes a certain amount of pain before we're motivated to change. I can only hope and pray that our clients last long enough to get the message.