Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th 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, January 28, 2020

Tough Love

A woman sent me an email the other day about her father, a man in his seventies, who had relapsed and started using drugs again.

She wrote that she and her husband had given him an ultimatum: that they would no longer communicate with him or be in his life until he sought help.

By the tone of her email I could tell that she was quite distressed by having to take that position with her father, who isn't in the best of health.

But in my opinion, that's the most loving thing she could have done for her father – to try to help him salvage the remaining years of his life and live them in health and sobriety. I've never met this lady and admire her courage, because somewhere along the way she has learned tough love and has put it into action. Even though he hasn't asked her for money or for financial help, she doesn't want to socialize with him while he's under the influence of whatever poison is putting in his body.

She's a rare species. Because most family members I deal with are seeking some kind of magic potion that will instantly cure their loved ones without having to do anything painful to them. 

But this woman apparently understands that we addicts will use anyone we can to get whatever we want as long as we are in the middle of our disease. We will lie to our children, our wives, our parents, anyone we can take advantage of. We will steal from our employers, strangers, or anyone else who leaves themselves vulnerable to us. We will risk our health, our freedom or sanity for that temporary rush of euphoria that our drug of choice brings us.

And the best way to help someone who is caught up in addiction is exactly what this woman did. She and her husband got together and presented a united front by taking a position with someone dear to them. Because they realize that the father has the choice. 

And the choice is his family or the poison that he's putting into his body.

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