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.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Using Grandma

A grandmother is full of fear because she's afraid her granddaughter will quit talking to her if she doesn't help support her drug habit.

"I just hate to see her in pain," she says. "Each time she asks me for money I want to give it to her because I hate to see her suffer.".

I assure her that the only thing she can do to help her granddaughter is to stop helping her. By the look on her face I see that the grandmother finds this counter-intuitive.

She spent some time telling me what a sweet child the granddaughter was. Up until she got into opiates. Then she changed into this unrecognizable creature who was only interested in doing what she needed to obtain drugs.

One can’t change people's beliefs and minds in an initial interview. Learning how to deal with addicts and alcoholics takes time. And without counseling it takes even longer.

For example it took my family and friends many years to realize that helping me was a useless endeavor. They spent a lot of time being concerned about me while I went on my merry way, drunk and high. It wasn't that I didn't love them or care about them. It was just that I cared more about my first loves, heroin and alcohol. Until life intervened in the form of homelessness, jail, and demoralization I was unable to do anything other than feed my habits.

I recommend to this grandmother that she learn about addiction if she wants to have a long-term relationship with her granddaughter.

Her final question is "what if she wants to come home and be with me rather than stay in the treatment program?"

I assure her that the worst thing she can do is accept the granddaughter back in her home until she has several months of recovery.