Matthew’s Story: Finding Balance and Self-Care in Recovery

For Matthew, the path to addiction started innocently enough.

“When I was around 13, I’d steal a bit of beer or have a glass of wine when my family entertained,” he recalls. But within a few years he’d graduated to drinking in his room, followed by using harder drugs and “lots of partying” in university.

From there, “life just got super unmanageable,” he says.  “I had trouble with the law.  I wrote off four different cars as a result of being either hung over or intoxicated. I wanted to die and was involuntarily brought to the psychiatric unit at a hospital.  Everything was going from bad to worse.”

His license suspended, Matthew was using public transit when he first heard of Renascent. “There I am, drinking on the train, and I saw poster for Renascent that said something like ‘you are not alone.’  I called the number on the spot.”

While not without its challenges, he credits his time at the Madison Avenue Centre with changing his life.  “It was amazing,” he says.  “Before Renascent, I didn’t know anything about the 12 Steps.  Learning that made all the difference, and the people there were so compassionate, supportive and kind.”

Matthew also praises Renascent’s robust alumni network for supporting the recovery journey.

“It’s a misnomer, especially among younger people, that you need to use drugs or alcohol to have a good time,” he notes. “In reality, even in recovery it’s important to have social opportunities.”

Prior to COVID, one of the ways Matthew gave back was by helping run a sober living group with events not only for those in recovery, but also their families and friends. Subsidies were available to ensure everyone could participate, and activities ranged from watching the Blue Jays to a Halloween haunt to cooking classes.

“Finding things to enjoy without substances — there’s a need for that,” he notes.  “You have to do more than just work – and more than just work on recovery, too. Self-care is very important, and I try to incorporate as much of it as I can. You need to have balance.”

While in the past he may have been skeptical about such things, today Matthew maintains an open mind. When someone in a recovery meeting recommended yoga, he decided to give it a try. “I find the spiritual aspect of it beneficial,” he says. “It’s good for a sense of connectedness, a good way to practice my breathwork. In recovery especially, those things are tremendously helpful.”

He’s also open to exploring other healthy ways to take care of himself. “I enjoy travel,” Matthew explains, “but also meditation workshops, chakra cleansing, reiki, massage, manicures, pedicures, a saltwater isolation tank – I withhold judgement until I’ve had the experience,” he says. “Trying new things keeps me grounded and helps me balance work, recovery, and other priorities in my life.”

It’s a good reminder that a full life is a universal pursuit.

“When I was using, all I could see was the differences between people,” Matthew reflects.  “But while our lives may look different on the outside, inside our challenges are the same. Whether you’re living on the street or in a penthouse, you only hit rock bottom when you drop the shovel. 

Decide today to prioritize your own wellbeing.  It will change your life.”

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.