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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mug Shots

A $1.00 tabloid newspaper published here in Maricopa County features mug shots of people booked in to the County jail each week.

Some clients pick the paper up because they usually find  someone there who’s been in our program at one time or other. When they’re through with it they sometimes drop it on my desk

Today I saw three familiar faces staring out at me. One had been in our Hard Six program a number of times. And it didn't surprise me he was in jail because he's never focused on who was responsible for his addiction. He was in for shoplifting, plus two failure to appear charges. He may be there for a while.

Another man in his early twenties had come to TLC from California. I saw him in weekly counseling sessions. He was a guy who thought he didn't have a problem, not really. He believed if he just "had a job" that everything would be okay. He thought his problem was money. A client who’d seen him a few weeks earlier had offered to get him back in the program. His said he didn't need that kind of structure – all he needed was a place to crash for the night. And – even though he was homeless – he wandered off down the street to find a spot.

Also featured was a man I'd counseled for some nine months. He was bright, pleasant, and talented, but left after he was discovered using heroin. His mug shot has been in the paper a few times.

The interesting thing about these three is that I’d told them if they didn't change they'd end up sick, dead, or back in jail. It's not rocket science to predict what happens when addicts pick up drugs or alcohol again. Fortunately these three are just back in jail.

Being right might feel good sometimes. But it's small comfort in situations like this where addicts are ruining their lives because it's so hard to make a few simple changes.