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, April 11, 2017

Tough Love

A long time business associate called me with a question about his daughter, who lives in another state and is using meth. She'd called him earlier in the day and left a message, saying she had a problem. His question was what should he do?

I told him to tell her that she was a smart girl with a Masters degree. That she could figure it out for herself. He liked that.

He's discussed his daughter with me over the past couple of years. He has very little experience with addicts or alcoholics, virtually none. When he first started talking to me about her I told him to take a tough stance. Before, when she would call for help, he would always give it to her. He provided money, cars, housing, but nothing kept her from using.

He had told me a sad story about when he first discovered her drug use. He had sent her to a prestigious college and had bought her a new BMW to drive. Before long she had dropped out of school and sold the car for drugs. That's when he realized that she had problems that he didn't understand. And because he was a loving father he always thought that maybe he would help her out with money and other material things. But it always backfired because she continued to use, partly because he enabled her to do so.

She moved away from home to another state. And he had high hopes for her. She married a well-off businessman and they had a couple of children. He thought that maybe the responsibility of children and being married would help her grow out of her addiction. Before long he began hearing stories about her behavior and knew that she had been unable to change.

At the very beginning, I told him that the only help he should give her was if she wanted to get into treatment. But when he offered to do that it fell on deaf ears.

My advice to him was to stay rigid. Tell her she's not welcome at family gatherings. Explain to her that she got into the mess she's in, and that she could get herself out of it.

The only reason I give him this advice is because I didn't get sober until people quit enabling me. Everywhere I went people were refusing to help. My friends refused. My family told me to go somewhere else. Everywhere I turned I ran into resistance. That's when I started realizing that I had a problem. And that's when I went into a detox began to change my life.