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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The mother's voice was full of concern for her daughter. She was in a state on the East Coast and her daughter was flying to Arizona to enter our woman's program. The mother wanted to be sure that the daughter was going to a place that was safe and secure. As we talked I assured her that we had security personnel at the property and that the women were separated by several blocks from the men in our program. Also, I explained to her that the women did not go to outside meetings. They were rarely off of the property by themselves during during the initial part of their program.

After a while the mother's concerns seemed to lessen and she felt better about her daughter's decision to fly thousands of miles to work on changing her life. Before we ended the conversation, I made suggestions to her about joining Al-Anon. I believed joining Al-Anon might help her understand what she was going through.

Since we started our woman's program in April of 2004 we have made several changes. At first we treated the woman's program simply as an extension of the men's program and everything was exactly the same. But over the years we have learned that women have special issues. Almost all the changes we made were based on suggestions from our women managers.

Among the changes they wanted was for the women to be more secluded so that they could focus strictly on their program. Many women in early recovery would go to meetings and often meet someone with whom they became friendly. The friendship often blossomed into a recovery romance. Sobriety would be put on the back burner.

These recovery "romances" seemed to always interfere with the TLC mission helping addicts rebuild their lives. In the first months after we opened the women's program this was one of the primary reasons women left. They believed that they had found “Mr. Wonderful” and that life would be bliss from then on. However, one of the things we learned, is that these early sobriety relationships rarely work out.

And because our responsibility has always been to help people get clean and sober, we made several changes over the years to improve our women's program to the point that it is today one of the role model programs in the Southwest.