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.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Needing a Job?

A halfway house client, a man I've known for years, calls me in the middle of the night to ask for help.

He's so drunk that I can barely understand him. He's alternately crying and blubbering.

I finally get him to calm down enough so that I can understand what he's saying. He says he wants me to come and get him, help him to get into a detox. I tell him I'd be happy to do that.

But when I ask him where he's at, he says he doesn't know.

All he can come up with is that it's "a really nice hotel." I tell him to look on the hotel door and see if he can find an address or name of the hotel. Or else he could call the front desk and ask them where he's at. Then the phone goes silent, even though he hasn't hung up yet.

I finally hang up because I can't get him to respond. But I figure that if he was able to call me once, he'll be able to call me again when he's ready to be picked up and taken to a detox.

This man has been going in and out of the twelve-step programs and detoxes for years. As soon as he gets sober and back on his feet he thinks he's okay and can return to work.

This man is a classic example of an alcoholic or addict who thinks his only problem is finding a job. For the past 26 years that I've been working with addicts and alcoholics, I've seen this happen over and again. Once we men get sober, we think our only problem is finding a job and making money.

But if that were true, why would we have gotten drunk or high in the first place? If a job or career is what would keep us sober we'd probably never end up in a rehab or in jail or on the streets.

But one of the problems with this attitude is that most addict's families have the idea that they need to go to work also. So they will agree with, and even encourage, the alcoholic or addict in their life to find a job and go to work.

And while work is an honorable and necessary thing in our world, it's not the most important thing for someone who can't stay sober. The most important thing for us addicts and alcoholics is to get our recovery straight. Then the relationships, jobs, money, and all the other things in life come back to us.

A life that's built on a shaky foundation is always going to fall apart. And that's especially true for us addicts and alcoholics.