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.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Losing Privileges

Give an addict a privilege and within a matter of months they will ruin it. A few examples:

Most of those in our program want to work. So, since we have a labor company we made arrangements for them to do temporary labor work. Sure enough, within a month we were unable to employ any of them. Most of the companies we work for are under contract with us. We promise that we'll provide sober labor and deliver them to the place of business. What happened was as soon as they went to work they realized that it wasn't play. It wasn't getting high. It wasn't having fun. So within a short period we lost our contract with the company and were unable to employ them anywhere. So now, we have fewer places to put people to work.

At one time we offered cable TV to the people in the treatment program. They had their choice of hundreds of movies and programs in the lineup. But then we started getting calls from the cable company. It seems as though somebody in our program was downloading movies and making copies  – which is a strict violation of our agreement with the cable company. After the fourth time that happened the company said they were going to sue us. So, what did we do? The only thing we could do: we had the cable company remove the service from all the houses. One or two people ruined it for everybody.

We used to offer sober apartments for those who graduated our program. However those who obtained an apartment didn't seem to last very long. Out of about 25 graduates who have gotten apartments only three of them are still sober. It seems like they've never lived on their own and don't know how to take care of an apartment or stay sober on their own – which was the point of letting them move. We finally decided the best way to remedy that situation was to not give apartments to anyone unless they had been in our program without a relapse for at least a year. It sounds harsh.  But we all must recognize the consequences of our bad behavior.

Not trying to be dramatic here but mother birds force the chicks from the nest to find the next meal: learn or starve, A heroin addict is different: His poor choices will literally kill him - and maybe everyone else in the roon.  A baby bird may get hungry; a heroin addict might die,

I have a lot more examples of clients who have caused the program to lose privileges because they couldn't be responsible. But I guess that's how we we make dumb mistakes and pay the price.  And maybe learn.

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