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, July 22, 2011

Go for Custody

I don't believe there are bad reasons to get clean and sober. One thing that helped me remain strong during my early sobriety was gaining custody of my youngest daughter. And in the toughest moments of my recovery, even though I wasn't thinking of relapsing, there was the ever-present responsibility of raising that child to help me stay clean.

This came up for me recently when one of our clients parted ways with the mother of his infant daughter. This man has been a loving father since the child was born. And because the mother is unstable and has engaged in recent and documented unsavory activity he has a good chance of obtaining custody. I strongly encouraged him to pursue his goal. Even though he doesn't have a lot of family to help him, I told him there are resources available.

I told him of my high level of frustration and anxiety as my daughter entered her teenage years. We dealt with issues of dating and curfews, grades, of how she should dress. We talked of substance abuse. But because I'm in recovery field she kind of got an education about the consequences of using. She never experimented that I was aware of. Life was hectic at times but somehow we got through. At 18 she joined the Army, serving in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern theaters. After leaving the military she went to college and is within a few hours of obtaining her bachelor's degree.

I shared this experience with our client. Even though he’d already determined he was going to obtain custody of his daughter I think my story helped him realize it could be done.