Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th 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, November 23, 2019

Worthwhile Decision

One of the most worthwhile things I've done in my life is quit using any kind of drug or alcohol that wasn't prescribed by a doctor. And that was almost 29 years ago.

Now a lot of people who have never had a problem with substances might find that an extreme statement. I remember, when I was a young boy, every Christmas my grandmother used to have a glass of white wine with dinner. The glass wasn't very big but I remember she used to say something like "I can't drink anymore of this, I'm starting to feel it."

And in my later years when I was deep into my alcoholism I used to marvel at that statement. Because for me the only purpose of putting alcohol in my body was so that I could feel it. And the more I felt it, the better I liked it. And the same philosophy extended to the other illicit drugs that I used as a teenager until I got sober in my early 50s.

And this came up for me today while I was reflecting on my recovery while returning from my grandson's fifth birthday party. I began doing an inventory of all the blessings that have appeared in my life since I got clean and sober. And this birthday party was just another one of them. To see my grandson opening presents with all of his friends and relatives was priceless. And socializing with about 30 sober relatives and friends is something that I could never have imagined during the years of my addiction.

Because when I got sober I only wanted one thing: I wanted the pain to stop.

And before very long, probably when I had six months sober, the pain did stop. That didn't mean that the problems in my life stopped. But what it did mean is that I no longer lived with depression and anxiety about the path my life was taking. I became much stronger and more capable of dealing with my problems. I began to realize that life had its ups and downs. But, if I remained sober and clean those problems were much easier to deal with. Instead of looking at the bumps in the road as disasters, I began to look at them as challenges. And when I took that point of view things were much easier to deal with.

If you're an alcoholic or addict and you're on the fence at all about whether or not you can successfully use alcohol or drugs I'd suggest that you make the right decision. Because if you have to ask yourself questions like that you already know the answer. And I'm here today to tell you that your life can be unbelievably wonderful, beyond your wildest dreams, if you make the right decision.

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