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, December 24, 2016


I heard an interesting story in the barbershop the other day that seemed to be a good example of a person with a sense of entitlement.

The story was about this man who was quite wealthy. A self-made man with enough money put away to live for the rest of his life. He also had a sister and two brothers. And each year, to demonstrate his generosity, on the anniversary of their Social Security check he would give each of them $25,000 cash. Plus, on their birthdays, for each year older they became he would give them an additional thousand dollars. In other words, he had a sister who is 65 years old and every year she had a birthday he added a thousand dollars to it. So when she turned 66 he gave her $25,000 on her Medicare anniversary – plus he gave her $66,000 for her 66th birthday. Nice.

But there's always a flaw in every story. And it seems that one of the brothers who is in his70s, had a drinking and gambling problem. So the year before his 75th birthday he told his rich brother that he needed a little bit extra money that year. When the rich brother asked why, he explained that he had experienced some heavy gambling losses that he needed to pay off.

The wealthy brother didn't make his money by being stupid. So he told the brother that he wasn't going to do anything different with him that year than what he had done all the previous years. And that he should be grateful to get that.

And of course an alcoholic and a gambler usually has an ego to go along with his addictions. So he told his brother something really ugly: like where he could stick his money if it meant that much to him. In my mind that's a perfect example of a person who has a sense of entitlement. And to go along with it, very little common sense.

I know that if anyone handed me a fistful of money every time I had a birthday I would treat them one way – with gratitude – with quite a bit of respect thrown in.

But it sometimes is difficult for us alcoholics and addicts – even gambling addicts – to learn to live life with gratitude for what we have. And some of the most difficult people to deal with are those who have a sense of entitlement along with a lack of gratitude. For me, that would be a terrible way to live.