Gary is no stranger to recovery. He has attended Renascent’s intensive inpatient addiction treatment program six times; each time motivated by different reasons.
“The last time I attended treatment in 2020, I knew I was done with drugs and alcohol. I knew if I didn’t stop drinking and using, that I would die,” says Gary who started using drugs when he was 28 years old. “I was hooked on cocaine right from the very beginning. I had a love affair with it for about four years before the consequences to using started to become really severe. And still, I kept on using.”
Over his last year in recovery, Gary learned some very valuable lessons and one of his biggest was about the importance of self-compassion.
“I didn’t have much self-compassion until recently. I was always upset at myself for my past transgressions and multiple relapses,” explains Gary. “When I relapsed in the beginning of 2020, I was so upset at myself. I understood that addiction is a disease and that I have no power over it, but I was still upset.”
Ready for a fresh start, Gary approached his last round of treatment with apprehension initially. He was concerned that the counsellors would be disappointed in his return to treatment until he got a pleasant surprise.
“I was welcomed back to treatment with open arms. Everyone expressed how happy they were that I came back to get the help I needed,” said Gary. “For the first week in treatment I was really beating myself up for finding myself back in this situation again, but one of the counsellors sat with me and encouraged me to adopt self-compassion, work the program, and have faith.”
Slowly, Gary began to take the counsellor’s advice and in working the steps, something almost magical happened.
“By the time I was done my Step Four I had more self-compassion. I was aware of the fear that was driving me. I decided to give myself a break. I did the work – I did my step 8 made my amends. And as time went on, I started to grow even more in self-compassion.”
Today, Gary’s life is very different. On November 4, 2021 he received celebrated his one-year recovery milestone. While he still reflects on the past, what Gary has learned about self-compassion in treatment and through the 12 Steps has shaped his views.
“Self-compassion allows me not to let go of many aspects of my past. I fully acknowledge that I made bad decisions and many mistakes. However, I am in a new place now and I know exactly what I am offering those around me,” said Gary, who is now studying to become an addictions counsellor.
Gary’s advice to new clients and fellow alumni who are struggling is simple.
- Keep coming back. If you fall down, don’t feel this is failure. Renascent is still here.
- Just do it. Do the program. Don’t argue every situation and don’t try to figure it out yourself.
- Listen to the counsellors. They know what they are talking about.