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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


In a group session a client who lost money from his nightstand said he was disappointed.

"I expect the people around me to be honest and leave my stuff alone," he said. "And instead they steal from me."

The feedback from the group was that he was unrealistic. After all, he's living in one of the biggest halfway houses in the Southwest. He's among recovering addicts. Some are ex-felons. Many have been homeless. Some are sober only a few days. Yet he's surprised and disappointed when he loses things?

The group thought he was setting himself up for disappointment by putting too high of expectations on his fellow addicts. Plus tempting them by leaving money around.

Of course in an ideal world no one would steal. We'd live by the Golden Rule. We could just leave things lying around and no one would appropriate them. But we don't live in an ideal world. We live in a world where some are honest and some are otherwise.

While we may lose things at TLC, reality is we don't lose near the percentage as many businesses. For example, I've read that Wal-Mart and other big chains have a loss rate of 2 to 3% just from employee theft.

That’s not our history. Every couple of years a manager disappears with a deposit. Or a client will lose something from his room. Or someone will leave with our tools.  It's mostly small stuff.

And because most of our clients are trying to change our loss rate is likely less than that of the average business.  After all, stealing is not compatible with sobriety.