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.

Friday, April 7, 2017


I don't know where I got the virus over 30 years ago.

Maybe it was in a dope house in Tijuana, Mexico. Maybe I was shooting up in a gas station in East Los Angeles, near Brooklyn Avenue. But then again, it could have been in Orange County, in a nice suburban home. Wherever it was, I became contaminated with the hepatitis C virus, which can destroy the liver.

Perhaps I used someone else's needle, which was common in those days. Because I didn't care about anything other than feeling the rush. It was like a long climax.

All I know, is that it was over 30 years ago. Because that's about how long ago a doctor asked me if I knew I had hepatitis. I was surprised. But I wasn't shocked. There had to be some residual effects after shooting heroin over a span of 37 years.

But by the grace of God, my liver has stayed healthy for thirty years. (Healthy means one has minimal scarring and minimal inflammation.) And as I wrote a few weeks ago, the pharmaceutical companies finally came up with a pill, Harvoni, for the type of hepatitis C that I had.

And I say had, because a few days ago my liver doctor told me I was cured. When he entered the exam room he handed me a paper with the results of my last blood test. It said that the HCV virus was undetectable in my system. That was after only four weeks of taking one pill a day.

Needless to say, I was excited at the news.

I encourage any of you who have put a needle in your arm to ask your doctor to test you for hepatitis C at your next check up. Because now there is a cure.

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