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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Addicts Will Lie

I spoke on the phone yesterday with the relative of a former client, a woman who relapsed within days of leaving our program. My conversation with her confirmed, one more time, how our disease impacts those around us. Apparently the client has been in touch, periodically, with this family member. And because she’s using she's telling the same old lies. One tale she told was that her "roommate was using" and she had to find another place to live. Another lie was that she'd return to TLC, but the program wouldn't accept her back.

And of course the former client was lying. Because our policy is to accept anyone back, unless they committed violence while in the program. Clients who leave and relapse must wait a certain period before returning. But in this client's case she'd been in the program once and had completed her 90 day commitment. She lied to her in-law, possibly to elicit sympathy and maybe borrow money.

The in-law, however, has been in the family long enough to know how our former client behaves. And she's lucky she has that experience. Because so many of my conversations are with family members who have little knowledge of drug addicts and alcoholics. They are baffled and have no clue about how to effectively deal with someone who’s using. And of course the addicts in their lives use every ploy possible to convince them that someone – or something – else is the problem. The addict often uses guilt as a ploy to get help. Or else they will play the victim, claiming the world has it in for them. The stories they weave are creative, but the agenda is the same: to continue feeding their disease until they can no longer do so.

But the nice woman who called knew exactly how to handle the situation because she’s been there before.