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.

Friday, February 15, 2013


A reader made the below comment a few days ago:

“Obviously you have surrounded yourself with YES people. Because anyone who speaks disparaging or negative words must be on drugs. Even puking on the sidewalk outside your office got everybody in the office tested."

"You know what they say about someone who doesn't trust people...can't be trusted.”

While this reader’s comments may be well-intended they exhibit naiveté about how to to deal with addicts. Or to run a successful recovery business.

We do surround ourselves with so-called “yes” people. People who say “no” or fight us every step of the way are not in tune with our mission of helping substance abusers; they have no place in our structure. It’s hard enough to run a treatment clinic and house 700 addicts - even when everyone’s on the same page.

That doesn’t mean we’re closed-minded to helpful input. That’s why some of our best programs were created by employees with great ideas.

And a puddle of vomit outside an office could mean that someone has relapsed. So, naturally we test everyone so we can keep a clean recovery environment. We trust – but verify. After all, we might save a life.

The cliché about “someone who doesn’t trust people” doesn’t work in the real world or at TLC.

I know no one who trusts everyone equally. At TLC we trust those with five years of sobriety much more than we do those with five days. That’s just common-sense. Most of the world I live in trusts people who prove to be trustworthy – not just anyone who shows up with a smile.

And – in conclusion - we show our trust of people on a regular basis.

-For example, our current bookkeeper, who makes daily deposits and manages our accounting department once stole a van from us and took it to California. Somehow he has convinced us to trust him again. However, we still drug test him.

-All our key managers are ex-felons and recovering addicts. We have every stripe of criminal at TLC – with the exception of sex-offenders.

So please, comment about trust after you do your research – not before.