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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Facing the Unknown

I think in this era of Covid 19 that those of us in the twelve-step programs are learning the true meaning of powerlessness.

Powerlessness is one of the key concepts of the twelve-step programs. Over and over we hear sad tales of our alcoholic and addict friends one more time going out and trying to successfully use drugs. And those who have gone out and failed come back to meetings and drag themselves to the podium to share with the rest of us tales of woe. Stories of where they have lost everything they've accumulated during their sobriety in a very short order. And those stories are good for us to hear. It's almost like going to school, taking a long course in how deadly and powerful are common enemy is.

Sometimes we hear stories from those who have lasted three months, six months, nine months, and sometimes even a year or two. But the outcome is inevitably that we are greeted by failure and once more we tell stories that always have the same same outcome: failure and woe and a fall from grace.

And this leads me to circle around to the first sentence of this blog where I mention Covid 19. Because when it first struck I didn't take it very seriously. I was one of those naysayers who thought we would get rid of the virus right away. I didn't want to wear a mask everywhere I went. I didn't want to socially distance. Sometimes I sided with those who thought it was a government plot. I don't think I started taking things as seriously as I do now until I saw the death tolls put out by the CDC every day. No matter from where or how the virus got here when people start dying – sometimes in the hundreds – I had to start believing that this thing was serious and act accordingly.

A part of my job is that I bear some responsibility for providing an environment for recovering alcoholics and addicts so they're as safe as they can be from this pandemic. We are constantly cleaning and sanitizing everything. We require social distancing and enforce it as much as we possibly can. We require everyone to wear a mask.

And the interesting thing is that even though we deal with a bunch of addicts and alcoholics most of them have been surprisingly cooperative. When this thing first struck I had visions of clients packing their bags and leaving by the dozens, driven by the fear of an unknown enemy and an unknown future. After all, isn't that what we used to do when we faced the unknown fear that drove us to drugs or alcohol?

But that hasn't happened in our program here at TLC. And I'm so proud of our managers and staff members who have exhibited such patience in dealing with this unknown that we're facing.