A Desire for Sobriety

“He’s going to have to want to be clean and sober more than we want him to be clean and sober.” I told my Rescue and Recovery Manager. A couple of weeks earlier we asked a resident to leave the program after his UA (Urine Analysis) showed positive for Meth. “He used while in the program.  Consequently, he showed us that we wanted him to be clean and sober more than he wanted to be clean and sober.  That needs to turn around.  He has to want sobriety more than anyone else wants it for him.”

His family obviously wanted it for him.  Several family members called us over the last couple of weeks and begged us to let him back into the program.  He could reapply to get back in the program – and would most likely be accepted – after 30 days.  Until then, however, he was on his own.  That is our policy.  I hate leading by policy; it makes me feel like a heartless bastard.  Then my Recovery Manager reminded me, “You know…one of the worst things to do for an addict is to let them skate by without experiencing the consequences for their decisions.  That was my problem.” I remembered that my Rescue and Recovery Manager celebrated 7 years clean and sober a few weeks ago. He continued, “People made excuses for me and I kept using.  Their excuses didn’t help me get clean.  They kept me using.”

Days when we lose guys are difficult for me – whether they choose to leave or we have to ask them to leave (which is, in reality, also a result of their choices). Policy doesn’t keep me from wondering if they will be able to make it on their own, if I will find out in a couple of weeks that they died from an overdose. Policy does not protect us from feeling like heartless bastards when I or my Recovery Manager tell a grieving family member, “No…I’m sorry…we can’t let him back in right now.  He can reapply in 30 days.”  We weep for those guys.  We pray they will make it those 30 days.  And we hope…oh, how we hope…that after those 30 days they want to be clean and sober more than the rest of us want it for them.


1 Comment

  1. Paul, I JUST did something similar with a woman I’ve been working with for about 3 years. I had to say to her, “Once you’ve been in the program for six weeks, then call me. We’ll go out to dinner. We’ll talk. I love you.” After 3 years of trying to help her find the right help, I realized that it was ME holding her back from what she needed: to make a decision for herself. She never did anything without asking me first (and even then she never listened to me). But this needs to be her decision. I know there are people in the program who are there to help her; they will guide her toward the healing she is looking for, if she’s willing.

    It’s difficult for these dear ones. They can’t handle things of reason as easily as those who have never been through severe dysfunction. They can only take it a little at a time. There’s a fine line of grace and boundaries, but I’m convinced that people don’t find true healing without boundaries to help them achieve it. Grace is good. But grace with guilt is never good. Remember what Jesus said to the paralytic? “I can heal you,” He said. “But do you want to be healed?” (John 5:1-17) Obviously, it was an important question to not only for our Savior to ask, but for the sick one to answer. Our job is to ask the question. Their job is to answer it.

    May the LORD continue to guide and bless you in your work.

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