Matthew’s Story: “You Can be Assured There are Good People in the World”

Miracles come in many forms. But for Matthew, it was a hospital stay that marked a “miraculous” turning point in a years-long process of recovery.

“I was in such a dark place,” they recall. “I was suicidal – but just enough of the addictions counselling I had undergone for years stuck with me. I knew I had to reach out to someone.”

From their home in Ontario they called a friend in Alberta to confide how they felt. When their phone died partway through the conversation, their friend – justifiably worried – called another mutual friend in Vancouver. That friend subsequently called another in Toronto, who called the police.

“And the police brought me to the hospital,” Matthew says. “That hospital stay really changed my perspective. I was in the mental health ward, and I saw a diverse group of people struggling with totally different things. At the same time, I saw people who had made it their life’s work to help others.

Being surrounded by people who were truly struggling like I was somehow made me feel less alone. And the staff’s commitment and compassion left me open to attending a place like Renascent.”

Following their hospital stay, Matthew attended Renascent’s six-week Virtual Intensive Treatment Program. They were able to complete the program during their school’s winter break, and found the format helpful.

“The opportunity to attend sessions virtually takes off a lot the initial pressure to show up,” they reflect. “I can see how people who suffer from social anxiety might try to avoid an in-person program; it can feel like a big leap, like you’re making a bold statement about your identity. In a virtual session, I didn’t feel that pressure.”

Matthew feels lucky they had the time off during a school break. “It gave me the space and time to explore and stop and reflect in a way I had never done before,” they say. “It led me to a community that truly understands what it is to live with addiction, to struggle and to come out the other side.  Everyone is looking out for the best for you.”

Having previously been told that their mental health needs could only be assessed when they stopped drinking, Matthew notes that addiction is but a symptom of a much larger spiritual disconnection. “I struggle with separating mental health, alcohol abuse, spirituality and personal growth from one another,” they share. “To me, these things all go hand in hand. I work on them all every day.”

And to prevent a relapse, Matthew says they’re now “really working on being honest” with themself.

“My sponsor calls it ‘addictions whack a mole,’” they explain. “In recovery, I’ve learned I’m really good at transferring behaviours I had while using to other areas of my life. I’m not drinking, but I still struggle with stability and enjoy the rush of lying, being rebellious or destructive in small ways. As individual events, they’re pretty harmless; but as a pattern, it’s a dangerous and unhealthy way to live. I acknowledge that, and I’m still working on it.”

When they find themself craving “just a little bit of chaos,” Matthew turns to their sponsor, connects with others in the recovery community and confesses to their actions in a group. “Calling someone is a game-changer,” they say. “Keeping connected keeps you honest.”

That connection comes in many forms, and Matthew feels fortunate to have the caring friends who intervened on their behalf. The relationships are especially profound given that their “romance with alcohol” first began while battling shyness and insecurity as a young teenager. “Recently, people surprised me by attending my first medallion presentation,” they say. “I didn’t fully realize how many friends I do have that care about me enough to drop everything and offer their support. “I needed that moment. For anyone who is struggling, you can be assured there are good people in the world.”

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.