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.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Word Power

A client left suddenly on Christmas Eve, saying he was leaving because of something I'd written about him in this blog. Oh, don't I wish I had that kind of power! If I did, everyone would get clean and sober here.

Something I never do here is to identify anyone by name, for purposes of confidentiality. The only exception has been, on one occasion, when a client passed away because of his disease. In that instance, I used his first name.

I do talk about incidents and situations involving our clients – but only for the purposes of helping someone get clean and sober. Most of the time I'll change the gender of the person, the time frame, or the location, so clients won't think it’s about them. And often I'll use examples from my own life in an effort to make a point.

The other part of this is – assuming the blog was about this client – there's a more appropriate way to deal with a perceived wrong than running away. For example, the client could have confronted me one-on-one, or in a group setting, to resolve his issue. Had he convinced me he was harmed, I'd have made amends.

In this client's case, I think he was looking for an excuse to drink. And the excuse he gave – that something bad was written about him here – is as good as any. I remember that when I wanted to drink or do drugs any old excuse would work. I’d drink if it was too hot. Or too cold. If it was overcast. Or if the sky was clear. Or maybe someone looked at me wrong.

I drank so much that I finally didn’t need an excuse.