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.

Monday, July 13, 2015


"I'm a grown ass man" or "I'm a grown ass woman."

We often hear this at TLC. And it always comes from a client who's decided not to do what we asked them to.

Usually it's the response we get when we ask them to clean their room. Look for a job. Stop arguing with another client. It's always something simple, nothing very complicated.

The reality is that when an addict comes into our program they're paying us to tell them what to do.

At the time they make that agreement with us, they're pretty desperate. Usually they are homeless. Broke. Jobless. And have a drug or alcohol habit. And probably all they own is the clothes on their back.

However, once they get a few meals in their stomach, a job, and some rest, things might change if they're not serious about recovery. At this stage some of their old thinking might come back. The addict ego may start to blossom once more. They've already started to forget what it was like out there.

At this point they usually make a decision about whether they're going to leave or stay. And we caution them about leaving in this state of mind. Because leaving angry is a sure way to relapse.

What we recommend – and not very gently – is for them to get their ego out of the way and develop some humility. We asked them to remember that their best thinking is what got them to TLC.

And the other thing we point out to them is that we're only asking them to do the same thing that an
ordinary citizen does . Go to work. Pay bills. Pay child support. Don't break the law. All that boring stuff that makes up day to day living.

But those things can contribute to a peaceful and productive life.