Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th 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.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TLC has a program called Hard Six. It is actually an 18 month program, but its name derived from the fact that when clients first enter the program they are restricted for six months. During this restriction clients work solely on TLC projects, work seven days a week, and can only have five dollars on them at a time.

How do clients get into this strict program? It started some 18 years ago when some clients developed a pattern of entering TLC, staying for a short period, and then leaving to relapse. Our staff came to believe that we were part of the problem rather than part of the solution. But we were stymied. What could we do with these guys? A lot of times when people went out, they didn't make it back. Some of them died in the hot streets of Arizona of their disease.

The man who came up with the idea thought that if the clients had more time to focus on their recovery they might have a better chance. So after clients had been in our program three times without success, we allowed them into the Hard Six program. We received some criticism because the program has so many restrictions. However, our answer is that everyone in the program as a volunteer. We don't force anyone to become a Hard Six. In fact, during the initial interview we try to talk them out of joining the program. We suggest that they might try to find another program that might be more suitable for them. However if they have been at TLC three times, and are willing to accept the restrictions, we take them in.

Our experience has been that some of our best managers come out of the Hard Six program. It seems that the six-month restriction and a year a follow-up supervision helps get clients on track.