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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Addict's Dilemma


A man referred to our program from a hospital came in with a long story.

He said he'd been in many programs. And in each one of them "something happened." He said he’d suffered severe injuries to his shoulder a few years ago, requiring him to take serious pain medication every four hours - a regimen he’d been on for years. He was also on Social Security disability, and had no money until the first of the month. Because of his disability he was unable to work - even part-time.

On the plus side, he says some right things. He wants to change his life. He wants to go to 12 step meetings. He was tired of the amount of alcohol he'd been drinking prior to entering the hospital.

However, a client like this presents a serious dilemma. When anyone is taking opiate-based pain medications every four hours our policy is to invite them to find another program to accommodate their needs.  And our rationale for this?

There are a few. For one thing, we are unable to properly monitor people's medications. Because we’re not a medical facility, we don't pass out drugs. For another, opiate prescriptions on the property are a trigger for other clients.  And even our front line managers are susceptible to this kind of temptation.

And when people are living under the influence of addictive drugs we have no idea – even if they are in serious pain – whether we're doing anything but prolonging their addictions.

While it might seem judgmental, we always have to come down side of being conservative when it comes to drugs – even legal drugs – at our facilities.

We’re not sure how things will work out with this client but unless he can change medication we'll find him another facility.