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, June 28, 2016


While it might sound counter intuitive sometimes the only way to win is to surrender.

An unhappy parent from a Southern state writes to me wondering what steps she can take to help her son. He's already in his mid-forties and has been in multiple treatment programs. He just got out of jail for driving while drunk.

The PO put him in a sober program and told him to get a job. Instead he went out and got drunk for three days and no one can find him. The mother thinks he might end up back in jail.

Her question to me is : "Can we help him?"

I answer with a brief email. I let her know that we sure can help. Except there's one slight problem: he needs to want to help himself.

Parents don't realize sometimes that they have little or no power over their children - especially when they're adults.

None of my children did what I expected. One became a heroin addict. Another has been a pastor for 20 years. Another became a soldier. Another is studying medicine.

But none of them did it because of my good directions. The ones who succeeded did it because they wanted to. And the one who became an addict made that his choice.

A long time I realized that when I want something very intensely I usually end up unhappy. So I surrender.  Am I there for them? Sure, because I love them.  But I'm not going to let what I want them to do make my life crazy.

Surrender is what I suggested to this mother who wrote me. I doubt if she does it.