James’ Story: “Keep coming back. Keep trying.”

In high school “it was pretty normal to party,” James recalls. “We would drink and smoke weed. At the time, it felt like that’s what everyone was doing.”

It didn’t take long, however, for James to realize “I was a little different from my buddies,” he says. “I mean, I really, really liked partying, and the way I use substances is extremely dangerous. I was probably 17 or 18 when I realized I might be in trouble.”

As he transitioned to harder drugs, James also began living a double life. “On one hand, I was socially successful and an elite athlete from a nice neighbourhood. On the other, I was using hard drugs at all hours of the night,” he shares. The problem grew when he attended an out-of-province college, where more freedom and less parental supervision created new challenges.

“Out West, things got intense pretty quickly,” he says. “I would act like everything was great, but the truth is I wasn’t even going to class. I was lying, stealing, and cheating, but I wasn’t cut out for a life of crime.

And when I met people who were, things blew up in my face real fast.”

James returned home, confided in his family and decided to stop using. Still, when someone suggested Renascent, it wasn’t a suggestion he was willing to take.

“I heard ‘treatment program’ and that I’d have to live there for a few weeks, and I just said ‘no way,’” he recalls.  “I didn’t understand addiction — my feeling was that I’d become honest with myself and the people around me, and all I needed to do now was stop using.  I thought I was too young for rehab, and that my addiction wasn’t ‘that bad.’ 

But addiction has a funny way of creating willingness.”

James agreed to be put on a waitlist and ultimately completed a Renascent program willingly, but was reluctant to follow through entirely.  “I really had one foot in and one foot out,” he admits.  Three months later, he had the first of numerous relapses.

“People talk about a ‘rock bottom,’ but I hit many, many bottoms over next five years,” he says. “I tried to get past my addiction, but wherever I went, there I was.”

Determined to change, he returned to Renascent and also accessed other treatment options.

“The theme of my recovery is ‘keep coming back,’” James shares. “It hasn’t been a short, straight path, but I kept trying and eventually found recovery. Seven years later I’m still learning to manage my addictive personality in other ways. I’m still trying, and I’m moving forward.  I now have a wife, a house, a great career … I have so many blessings,” he says.

He’s also found fellowship in the recovery community. “The camaraderie of having overcome some of the same obstacles as others has made all the difference for me,” he reflects. “I attend two or three meetings a week, and I love it. I’m constantly inspired by people who come in and give it their all.

Being part of the recovery community is a bright spot in my life.  I sponsor a guy and he finds it helpful – but the truth is, it helps me way more than it helps him.”

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.