Harold’s Story: A Supportive Employer Made all the Difference

“In 1986, I came to Renascent by way of my employer,” Harold says.

“Ironically, I worked for a company that sold alcohol. And when I was first hired, our manager told us that if we ever got in over our heads, it would be better if we came to him rather than the other way around.

“Well, sure enough, one day I messed up.  I remembered what I was told, and I called the office. Our district manager came to visit me, we talked, and he took me to Renascent. I just remember feeling this huge sense of relief.”

Although he knew he needed help, Harold initially thought the challenges he experienced were due to another mental health issue, rather than addiction.

“You have to understand,” he says, “back then, the culture was different. It was entirely normal to drink at work. My parents drank, as did many members of my extended family. I never really saw alcohol as a problem. It was all that I knew.

“In a way, if felt more plausible that I belonged in a psychiatric hospital rather than a place for addiction recovery.”

Over time, however, he came to understand his challenges were not unique to his circumstances. “There were 30 people in the house when I arrived at Renascent,” he says. “They were from all walks of life: professionals, lawyers, a minister. I found I could relate to some of their stories. Those relationships helped.”

Now 38 years into recovery, Harold credits his own supportive workplace with making all the difference.

“That district manager – he really looked out for me,” he says. “He set me up in places where I would succeed, with people who would be a good influence on me.  He made sure I had a good foundation when I went back to work, and he encouraged me to pursue opportunities.” Years later, that encouragement led Harold to take on a management position; he later retired with thirty years of service to the same company.

“My employer made it okay to be who I was,” he says. “Often, that’s the biggest barrier. When you return from treatment, you really wonder if you’re still going to fit in. My colleagues made sure I did, and other staff would go out of their way to help me.”

And as Harold rose through the ranks, he continued to pay their kindness forward.

“Around the store, I got a reputation as someone who didn’t drink,” he says, “and others started coming to me for guidance. I always made myself available for anyone who wanted to talk. In doing so, I tried not to pass judgement, and to steer people in the right direction.

That helped my soul.”

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.