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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wet Houses?

A week or so ago a woman sent an email with an unusual request. She was looking for a “wet house” for her brother who, she said, was unable to quit drinking.  In other words, she wanted a place for him to live and drink.

While I wasn’t exactly sure how a “wet house” operates, I told her we didn't have any at TLC.

But her request piqued my curiosity so I looked into it.

And I learned that some cities underwrite wet houses as a program of harm reduction. The rationale is economic. It seems that homeless alcoholics use an inordinate amount of taxpayer money. They are more likely than any other group to be victims of crime or to suffer medical emergencies.

While this may be “harm reduction” for the taxpayer, what about the alcoholic? To me it looks like a death sentence. Programs like this may save money, but I haven’t seen any statistics that say it betters an alcoholic’s life in a positive way.

One study did show that chronic alcoholics cut down from twenty drinks a day to twelve a day. Big whoop! While a city may view that as a measurable improvement, I see it as prolonging the misery.

Alcoholism is a daunting problem, but I see the only solution as abstinence in recovery.

Click here for a CNN report on this issue.  Or here to see what Time Magazine wrote.