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, June 27, 2015

Hold Firm

A lot of nice emails this week. They were from readers who liked the blogs about being firm with addicted family members.

They said they'd taken tougher stances with the users in their lives. And the results were good.

Of course, at first their loved ones were unhappy. After all, they'd had a good thing going - someone to help them feed their addiction. Maybe not directly. But indirectly by providing a couch or bed. Food. Transportation. Pocket money. And so forth.

Reality is that loved ones often play us by wanting us to feel guilty and responsible for their addiction.

And admit it, sometimes we fall into the trap. Somewhere inside us we're sure we could have done better with those we love. Especially our children. Maybe had them in a better school. A better neighborhood. Maybe spent more time with them. Without much effort we can find a residual guilt somewhere within us about something.

But what does that have to do with today? Nothing. We can never make up for the things we didn't do. There's not enough money in the world to change the past.

We must have the courage to salvage the present. And we can't do it by being weak. If we love someone who's an addict we give them an ultimatum. Here's one that's simple and loving: nothing more from me until you get into recovery.

And mean it. The only thing you should do for an addict from that point forward is maybe get them to detox or treatment. Perhaps - and only if you can afford it - help with insurance or money for treatment.

Oh, they'll kick and scream. No matter if it's a child, spouse, or parent, they'll do their best to remind you of the past. About your shortcomings. Your missteps. About your many failings.

Love them enough to hold firm and maybe you'll save their life.

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