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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Relapse or Mistake?

An issue we regularly deal with at TLC is prescription drug abuse. We allow clients to use prescriptions to treat mental conditions, but allow no chronic use of any kind of painkillers. And under all circumstances drugs are locked in the office and issued at the prescribed time.

However, sometimes clients refill a prescription and try to keep it on them or in their room.

This came up this week when a client who has more than one prescription for mental conditions refilled it but failed to turn it into the office when he returned from the pharmacy. In the morning the staff noticed he appeared lethargic and took him to the emergency room as a preventive measure. As it turned out the client had taken more than his prescribed dosage.

The issue was dealt with as a relapse and the client was given the choice of leaving the program or moving to one of our other facilities in a different part of town to begin the program over. In this client’s case he had the financial resources to leave and did so when told his options.

When we have clients who abuse prescriptions it’s sometimes difficult to maintain a balance between enforcing the rules and having compassion for those who need these kinds of prescriptions. We have to evaluate each of these situations on a case-by-case basis: was the client seeking to get high? Or did he really make a mistake.?

Most of the time we’re able to figure it out. But it it’s not always easy.