John’s Story: Lessons in Recovery

For John, the journey to recovery started on a day he’ll never forget.

“My ex-wife and I were both drinking. We got into a big fight,” he says, “and it was unquestionably one of the worst days of my life.”

Afterwards, “my son asked me if I was an alcoholic,” John recalls. “And for the first time in my life, I said ‘yes.’”

With his son’s encouragement John attended Renascent’s Virtual Intensive Treatment program, where he spent up to three hours a day participating in group and one-on-one counselling sessions.

“This was my first time doing anything virtually, and I enjoyed it,” he says. “I felt 100 percent connected. Every day, I really looked forward to that time.”

Through it all, John was driven by a single thought. “I just wanted to change,” he says. “All I knew was I never wanted to go back to that night, ever. I never want to be like that again. It was – and is – my strongest motivator.

This year was roughest year of my life, but to not drink has been very powerful,” John shares. “Renascent has been unbelievable – the virtual program, continuing care, the alumni events … they offer so much support. Even now, I keep in touch with other alumni and continue to learn, continue to benefit.”

These days, John still makes learning a priority. He’s now completed nine additional courses in everything from navigating divorce to getting through the holidays. Along the way, he’s developed valuable coping strategies that help him stay on track. Here are his best tips for staying the course:

  • Look back to see how far you’ve come. “Remembering the commitment I’ve made to myself – that I’ll never be ‘that person’ again – is very powerful.”
  • Practice gratitude. “I have so much to be grateful for,” John notes, including four wonderful children, three beautiful daughter-in-laws, seven awesome grandchildren, two great brothers and their loving families, and many great friends.
  • Maintain connections with others. “Never underestimate the importance of just talking, just going out to lunch with someone,” he advises.
  • Focus on what’s in your control. “Remember the serenity prayer. Understanding I can’t control what others say or think has been huge.”
  • Don’t just attend meetings; participate. “Remember, helping others is part of recovery,” John says. “What you say matters. Others learn from you, and when you’re engaged you get more out of it, too.”
  • Be honest. When you seek treatment, “don’t be afraid to speak how you feel,” he notes. “What you share doesn’t go beyond the group. We listen, we support, and we don’t judge.”
  • Have hope. “We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hope.”
  • Learn every day. “Always strive to grow in a positive way; never stay where you were before,” John says. “My business is to make the best of what God made. I try, every day, to do that.”

Finally, John offers a reminder that is meaningful, universal – and simple.

“Remember to be kind,” he says. “It just takes a second and doesn’t cost anything to make someone smile. It will remind you that you are, in fact, a good person.

Any act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.”

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.