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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Last night I spent an hour on the phone with a man in his mid-80s, a parent who had been victimized by our disease. His son, a man in his late 50s, was an addict who couldn't get sober.

The addict had convinced his elderly father that the problem wasn't his drug abuse, it was other things. For one thing, the people in the program the son was trying to get into had been rude to him. Also they wouldn't let him pursue the career of his choice, driving a taxi cab. And the other thing he told his father was that he really didn't have a problem with drugs. His real problem was that he was a sex addict. And the women he had sex with offered him drugs and that's why he went back into his addiction. The stories he told his father went on and on.

The sad thing is that the father believed the son. Each time I tried to explain that his son was an addict and that the responsibility for change was on him, the father recited another story of how he had tried to help his son. The father, who lives in New Jersey, had last year financed the son's move from Chicago to Las Vegas where he was scheduled to enter a recovery program. Instead, the son somehow ended up living in a Las Vegas motel with a girlfriend, a situation that lasted for some six months. And the father paid for the motel all that time, convinced that the son was drug-free.

The father went on to tell me that the son finally entered the drug program in Las Vegas. He did very well for 120 days, then met another woman and relapsed again. Again the father blamed the woman and didn't assign the responsibility to his son -- which is exactly where it belonged.

The sad part of all of this is that often our family and friends do not understand the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction. And because they don't understand they are often victimized by the very people they care about. In this case the fifty something son had been draining his father's bank account to pursue his own addiction.

The conversation ended with my recommendation that the father do nothing else for his son until he was sure the son was well into recovery. I explained to him that the son's only problem in life was his addiction. And until he dealt with his addiction probably nothing else in life would go well for him.

Before ending the conversation I told the father to definitely not send his son more money. He said that wouldn't be a problem because the son had already depleted all of his savings.