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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Starting with Nothing

When I first got sober I remember having nothing. Just the clothes I was wearing when I went in the front door.

When I complained about it to one of the counselors, she said “That’s a good place to start.”

At the time her comment offended me. But later I understood.

When we come into treatment or detox with a wardrobe, a cell phone, maybe even a car, well perhaps things weren’t bad enough. We really hadn’t hit bottom yet. We may think we’re slick enough to have stopped using before things got too bad.

In my 25 years at TLC my experience has been that those who start out with the least do the best. When they come into the program with nothing, their ego has been flattened right along with their wallet. 

When they come in they’re exposed to the world as just what they are: an addict or alcoholic who is barely struggling by. They finally have been forced to ask for help. And for those of us with an out-of-control ego, that can be devastating. 

 But on the flip side we begin to realize that things aren’t going to get any better if we don’t make some radical changes.