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.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Go Ahead and Sue Us

“I’m going to sue you,” a former client told me, after I responded to several messages he’d left on our company voice mail. He was upset because he’d relapsed and left belongings behind that he said weren’t there when he returned for them. He said his cell phone, digital camera, IPod, expensive Levis, and other items were missing.

“So you left and didn’t take your phone with you?” I asked, not understanding why anyone would leave without at least their telephone.

After a few more minutes I realized what this former client really wanted was money for drugs. He was only asking for $150 in compensation for all the expensive things he claimed he'd left behind. To me it would've made more sense if he would've asked for at least $1500, the amount it would probably take to replace his purported losses.

I had a very calm conversation and let him know I wasn't intimidated by his threats. After all, clients and former clients threaten to sue us a few times a year. None have followed through because no self-respecting attorney will take a case unless it has some merit – or the client has upfront money. I invited him to sue us whenever he was ready.

This man is an example of those who enter our program and focus on everything but what they came for. They find things to be unhappy about. It could be the food. It could be the fact that our buildings aren’t new. They don't like the idea that addicts run the program. They are looking for a therapist or counselor to hold their hand. They come into the program with an entitlement mentality; they expect everything to be done for them. They are already setting themselves up for failure because they're not looking at the reasons they are with us. All they're looking at is the external. If only things were perfect, then they could perhaps get sober.

Before hanging up, I gave him our address and told him that I’d be waiting for the legal paperwork.