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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This week a man who had been released from prison after five years was talking about TLC's reputation on the big yard. Other cons told him he shouldn't go to TLC unless he was serious about changing. According to him, TLC is reputed to be a hard place for those not serious about staying clean and sober.

This conversation occurred during an employment training meeting and I was pleased to hear what the man had to say. I take pride in the fact that TLC is considered to be serious about recovery.

It says in the literature, "half measures availed us nothing." I believe that same principle applies to us when we are seeking a halfway house or recovery program. After all, what's the point of living where people are getting high? Why even bother going to a program unless you're serious about changing? I understand, of course, that many addicts are told by their parole officer to go to a program. Some of them try to have it both ways. But it never works, because eventually we drug test everyone and their dishonesty is discovered.

During the past few days we had an interesting experience with a halfway house that is not as strict as ours. While I am never one to beat up the competition because I believe everyone helps someone stay sober once in a while, this program's approach to recovery mystified me. Their website says if the doctor gives them a prescription for opiates it's okay to use them. That's totally counter to what we do. We don't allow people to use opiates for more than a few days because our experience is that doctors will write a prescription for pain if patients ask them for one. We refer those with prescriptions to some other programs or suggest that they ask their doctor to wean them off the drugs. About half of the people we make this suggestion to leave because their addiction is more important than their recovery.

One of the things we've learned about people who leave our program for other, less strict programs, is that eventually their addictions will overtake them and they'll find out that the easier program might not be for them.

In that case we generally let them return and try to help them get back on the road to recovery.