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, August 31, 2012

Appearances can Deceive


Housing 600+ recovering addicts and alcoholics provides a never ending stream of anecdotes. 

For example, we discovered this week that a client who'd been living in one of our men's houses for a while was actually a woman. And naturally those who were managing that facility took a lot of lighthearted verbal abuse because they allowed her to be there.

However in their defense, the woman was described as having so much hair on her back that it was sticking out of her collar. She reportedly had a five o'clock shadow and a mustache. Though some thought her mannerisms effeminate, none suspected her true gender. And as far as we know is this is the first incident of this type in over 20 years. But, of course, this one slipped by, so we could have had others. We'll never know.

A risk of accepting anyone who asks for help whether they have money or not is that we attract all kinds of people. The only requirement for entry to our program is a desire to stay clean sober. Plus the applicant can have no history of sex offenses or arson convictions.

In spite of the fact that we sometimes attract what some consider off-center people there’s an upside: we’re able to help many into recovery or treatment who can’t get help elsewhere.  

So for us, getting a strange character in our program once in a while is an acceptable risk.