My Mistake: Pushing the Boundaries of Sobriety

By Adam, Renascent Alumni

As soon as I had finished my three weeks of treatment at Renascent and the Aftercare Program, I knew for a fact that I was an indestructible spiritual badass. Nothing would stop me from taking the reins of my life and living to the fullest. With that in mind, I didn’t initially see a problem with my first job out of treatment being working as a dry-waller with someone whose first words to me in person were “Listen, I need to level with you, I just did an eight-year bit in the pen.” This seemed like an opportunity for me! I would make some money, and also work alongside someone else who was in recovery. This was perfect!

I lasted all of three days working for this person, and by the end of it I had definitely started to push the boundaries of my new found sobriety. I was working alongside someone with unresolved rage issues, who saw no issue referring to me solely with unflattering four-letter words. To my credit, I actually tried to resolve our differences and see if I could salvage the situation. Maybe I could help this suffering person become less abusive. That never ended up happening; I learned a very important lesson, one that I keep close to me to this day. One of my counsellors in treatment, Mike, said something that sticks with me to this day: my sobriety is the most important thing that I have, and I am sober now… I couldn’t say for sure if there would be a ‘next time’ getting clean if I slipped again. 

I walked off of the job after this individual kindly let me know (in no uncertain terms) that they felt entitled to being abusive toward me, and to take it or leave it. When I was sick, I hated myself, I would have stayed out of some sick feeling of moral obligation that I deserved to suffer like that… but that isn’t who I am anymore, and that old way of thinking has no place in my sobriety. I abused substances because I could not stand being in my own skin, this is my second chance, and I deserve to treat myself with kindness. When I walked away from that abusive person, I started the process of learning how to set healthy boundaries with my fellow humans. My sobriety is the most valuable thing I will ever have, and being short on grocery money for the next week was a small price to pay when compared to a relapse that would invariably take everything that I hold dear to myself.

About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email