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.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Drugs at TLC

A cardinal rule at TLC says if you know a client is using you must tell management - or face discharge. We believe if you condone drug use in our houses then it's like you're using yourself.

A new client, who came in over the weekend, was offered drugs by her roommates the day she arrived. The first thing she did – a demonstration of her commitment – was to tell the manager. As a result, two women were discharged because they tested positive for meth-amphetamines.

Our policy is we don’t care if people want to use drugs or alcohol. But we object when clients use on our property or while in our program. We aren’t missionaries or anti-drug or alcohol. We believe most of the world is different from us. Most of the world uses alcohol and/or drugs in moderation. However, in our case, we don't understand moderation. We always end up in trouble – either with the law, our health, or the world in general. That’s why we have strict drug testing policies and zero tolerance. When we discover clients using they're always referred to a detoxification facility. Our zero-tolerance policy extends even to prescribed medications. Clients aren't even allowed to use pain medications on a long-term basis.

Once in a while those who bash our program say drug use is rampant in our houses. But that's not true. Anytime I hear stories like this I ask the source to tell me who's using and at what house. Usually these kinds of stories will cause us to drug screen those living at the house. Invariably the information will turn out to be untrue, though we might find one or two people who are unwilling to take a drug test or who are dirty.

Those who listen to – or spread - these stories forget that drugs permeate every area of our society. Even our state prisons, with gun towers, drug dogs, and electric fences, can't keep drugs away from the inmates. So it's not surprising when a few of our clients , all addicts and alcoholics, will sometimes relapse.