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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Walking Out

We try to show clients love and attention in support of their recovery. And much of that love and attention takes the form of pointing out behavior that’s not conducive to recovery. Like lying, stealing, missing groups or counseling sessions, anger, drama – the list goes on and on.

And one of the ways we show love and attention is when we deal with issues in group. These groups aren’t a forum where clients are allowed to dump on one another. It’s a safe place where they point out each other’s behavior.  There they can support their sobriety and create cohesion in the community.

Traditionally this is one of the most effective tools we have. However, it also comes with guidelines – one of which is that clients can’t leave the group without permission. And if they do, they can be discharged from the program for disrespecting the process.

I was reminded of this yesterday when the group was focusing on a man who couldn’t handle the attention to his behavior.  He became so irritated he walked out. He was told he couldn't leave, but left anyway. He made an unacceptable excuse about having to meet with his sponsor and stayed out all night.

Then he called this morning, wanting to come back. But that’s not how TLC works. We accept clients into the program because they say they want help staying sober.

But, if like this former client, they want to do things their way, we’re okay with that - they have the right to leave. But when they’re with us they must work on their recovery according to our guidelines.

 Or do what this client did and walk out.  We wish him well...