Derek’s Story: “I finally understood I couldn’t do this alone”

“When my children were younger,” Derek shares, “the Children’s Aid Society was involved in our lives. At the time, I didn’t take that as seriously as I should have – I’d had a problem with my drinking since my early 20s, and our home environment wasn’t appropriate for kids.

Unfortunately, instead of working to make things better I turned to alcohol to drown my sorrows. I really didn’t see anything wrong with having ‘a couple of beers.’ I thought I had it all under control.”

Over the ensuing years, Derek’s children lived with extended family while he continued to struggle.

“I was oblivious to how bad things really were,” he recalls. “I was required to do urine screens to see my children, so I was clean for short periods of time. But the truth was, I was still drinking and using other drugs.”

When the woman he was dating said Derek’s addiction prevented her from continuing their relationship, he began to acknowledge he had a problem. “I had started to see glimpses of good things I could have in my life, and I had to admit I had an issue.

Yet I still thought it was something I could fix on my own.”                                          

He completed a program at Renascent, but readily admits he wasn’t prepared for life in recovery.

“After treatment, I still didn’t realize how much control my addiction had over me,” Derek says. “I really thought I could come out and go back into the same job, doing the same things, with the same habits, the same patterns – and be able to stay sober.

In reality, there was no way that would work.  There were triggers everywhere; I left work and my car literally drove itself to the LCBO. In hindsight, I was setting myself up for failure.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get yourself a good foundation in your recovery.”

Several years later, Derek returned to Renascent.  But this time, he did things differently.

“I was much more humble than before,” he reflects. “It was life or death for me this time around, and I finally understood I couldn’t do this alone.”

This time, Derek says, he “dove in headfirst.”  He disrupted his old patterns, quit his job, built relationships at Renascent, explored his spirituality, found a sponsor and began attending meetings at AA.  “I just knew if I didn’t do it, I’d end up either dead or in jail,” he says.

Nearly two years into recovery, Derek’s life has dramatically changed. He has a supportive fiancé, a new job, and fellowship with others in recovery. “We give each other hope,” he says of his robust network, which includes friends met in treatment as well as four of his own sponsees.

But the most important change, he says, has been in his relationship with his children.

“Before, I think my kids had lost hope,” he says. “Now, they are so proud of how far I’ve come.  They have their dad back, and they trust me with everything.  My son lives with me, and my daughter is in university.  She and I talk almost every day.

Our life now couldn’t be more different.”

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.