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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hoping for Prison

A young woman at a meeting is discussing her brother and her father. Apparently, both of them are having trouble with drugs and alcohol. Plus, they are facing charges that could possibly send them to prison.

"I hope both of them go to prison," she said emphatically.

Now those aren't normally things a loving person would say about their brother or father. But the woman went on to explain that she believed that was the only way they were going to survive. She believed that if they remained free, that their addictions would kill them. And I think what she said contained a lot of wisdom.

I know many addicts and alcoholics who aren't motivated to get sober as long as they have the freedom to obtain drugs or alcohol. The only way they survive is by being locked up until their mind is clear. And even then, they will eventually be set free and likely will begin using again. The only thing that would prevent them from returning to their addiction is if they got involved with therapy or twelve-step programs while they were locked up. But, in most cases that doesn't happen.

As for me, I went in and out of jails and prisons and mental institutions for sixteen years. And I believe that being incarcerated frequently and for long periods of time kept me alive if nothing else.

It was only after I was free for quite a while, and kept losing things over and over again, that I decided I needed to change the direction of my life. But that only happened after many years of believing that I could successfully use drugs or alcohol. Only when life got so painful that I could no longer deny the power of my addiction did I go into a detoxification unit and begin a new life of recovery.

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