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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wanting to stay High

The mother of a young addict tells me that her son has had every opportunity get sober – but won't.

She has the resources to send him to a treatment program. He won't go. She's offered to rent him an apartment until he can find employment – but he won't look for a job. He just bums money from wherever he can, and lays up in a cheap motel. But his addiction is becoming so debilitating that he soon will be homeless because he can't even hustle up enough money to pay for his own motel.

She's tried everything in the world to get him on a recovery track, but addiction rules his life. Because she was using drugs when he was a child he uses that as a guilt card when he talks to her. And because she's overly sensitive she has a tough time putting her foot down. Even though she's in recovery and knows that she had to suffer enough pain before reaching the point where she got serious, she somehow has a difficult time applying the same principles to her son.

Because I know these people well I have some understanding of the dynamic between her child and her. I tell her she must be willing to let him go all the way to the bottom. Let him go to jail. Let him go to the streets. Let him suffer enough to figure out that his decision to continue using is going to keep him immersed in suffering. He'll begin to understand that his way isn't working.

I tell her that I never got into recovery until people stopped helping. When the person who loved me the most, my mother, told me she'd no longer help me I began to realize that I must be the problem. She wouldn't let me sleep on her couch. She wouldn't let me sleep in her garage. She wouldn't "loan" me money. Nor would any of my friends. I was without resources.  And ended up being homeless for a time.

But that was probably the best lesson of my life. I finally had to look at myself and say "You know, John, you may be the problem here." I began to realize that other people weren't the problem. Yeah, so I was raised in an abusive home as a child when I lived with my alcoholic father. While we had enough to eat, we were relatively poor as I was growing up.

All of the bad things that happened to us as we were growing up or going through relationships or jobs or life itself, may be true. And they may be bad, even horrible. But if that's what we use as an excuse to get high or drunk, then we're destined to never get well. All we're doing is perpetuating a bad situation. And eventually, those bad situations historically get worse, never better. If we live through our addictions, we may find ourselves in prison. Or on the streets. Maybe a mental hospital. Who knows? And the sad thing is that as we get older, we find that hardly anyone cares about us because we don't care enough about ourselves to accept help from others.

But there's a solution for all of us addicts. All we need to do is open up our minds and hearts – and reach out. Someone will help us get into recovery.

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