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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

R.I.P. Todd

A staff member sent me an obituary of a man who was in our program less than a month ago. He'd been with us for two years. He had a job. He lived in one of our sober living houses, doing quite well.

But about a month ago we got a message that he was in his room at the sober living house, drunk and disorderly. A staff member asked him to leave or to go to detox - telling him he could come back later when he was sober.

But he refused to leave. In fact, we had to call the police to remove him from the premises.

Normally we don't let people who drink on the property and refuse to leave, to come back into the program. Especially when we have to get the police involved.

But because he'd been a good resident prior to his relapse, his manager brought him to my office. The man was quite pleasant and convinced me that if allowed to stay he would make every effort to be an exemplary resident. That I shouldn't judge him on just that one relapse. And he was so pleasant and convincing that I told him he could return – but that this was his last chance. He left my office, saying he was going to get some things from his home and then return.

That's the last I heard of him until a staff member sent me an obituary that was published by the mortuary.

In his photo, he looks like someone's next-door neighbor. He's wearing a suit and tie and has a big smile, appearing to be the picture of success. The obituary goes on to describe that he was a father, that he graduated from a major university, that he loved motorcycle rides, Golden Retrievers, and ice cream.

So what happened after two years of sobriety that made him pick up a bottle? And what made him never return again, even after we gave him permission to come back? No one really knows the answers.

All we really know is that alcohol took another alcoholic's life at the age of 55.  But his untimely death demonstrates that as sober people we can never let our guard down.

We send our sympathies to his family and wish him Godspeed.