Rodney’s Story: “I am rebuilding my life.”

Thanksgiving was very different for Rodney, this year. He spent it surrounded by family at his uncle’s home in Toronto.

After spending about 15 years in active addiction and five of those years in homelessness, this was Rodney’s second Thanksgiving in recovery. It’s a milestone that he is truly grateful for and it’s one that he didn’t think was possible.

Rodney vividly remembers the moment when he realized that he needed treatment. It was the day he had found out that his girlfriend of five years died of an overdose. That initial night was very difficult for Rodney. Angry and devastated he tried to “commit suicide by cop.” He took a heavy dose of substance and instigated an altercation with police.

“Thank God the cops did not shoot me. Instead, they took me to the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), and it was there that I signed up to attend Renascent,” said Rodney. “I was at a point when enough was enough. It was either I make a change for the better or commit suicide. I was so sick and tired of being a slave to drugs and alcohol, and I didn’t truly want to truly die.”

In May 2022, Rodney began treatment at Renascent Paul J. Sullivan Centre. It was Rodney’s second attempt at attending. About two and a half years prior, he was on his way to Sullivan Centre with his mother, when he exited the car after she stopped for gas in Whitby. Rodney saw an LCBO across the street and decided to forego treatment.

“I wasn’t ready yet. I needed something to happen where I truly wanted to get sober,” he said.

Full of nerves, this time around, Rodney started treatment.

“At first, I was surprised. The Centre felt more home-like than I thought it was going to be. It was very intimate,” shared Rodney, who soaked in the new experience like a sponge. “The comradery was great. I have never been in an environment where everyone wanted to get sober. The community there was amazing.”

Now, in his second year of recovery, Rodney lives a very different life from the one he lived before treatment. 

“I’m going back to school at George Brown. I’m taking a program called Transition to Post-Secondary Education because I plan to study social work afterwards,” said Rodney confidently. “I experienced homelessness for the last five years in addiction. During that time, I had a lot of social workers assigned to me. I could tell which ones really cared. I have all of this experience on the street and I can put that to good use and be in the trenches helping others.”

Rodney remains thankful to the donors who supported the Renascent programs that he accessed. Donors fund a portion of Renascent’s government-funded live-in intensive treatment program and the organization’s Continuing Care Program.

“By supporting with their donations, donors are helping to save lives,” said Rodney. “Renascent really saved my life. Hopefully one day, once I am making money, I can contribute to Renascent’s Mission. Right now, I am trying to build my life – Renascent gave me that chance.”

In treatment at Sullivan Centre, Rodney learned a lot about himself and addiction. Here are a few highlights:

  • In treatment, I learned about the Twelve Steps. I never really experienced the Steps before. Through them, I learned that there is a structured solution to addiction – something that I can see on paper that gives me goals and direction.
  • I came to understand that in addiction, I was spiritually sick. I knew I was different from other people and needed alcohol to get by in life – to feel normal. I knew I needed a personality change and Renascent made me realize that was attainable. There I learned that I could be happy sober. When I was sober before, I was miserable. I really thought it wasn’t possible for me to be happy.
  • I also learned a lot about how addicts think. I remember I got introduced to the poem: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. That helped me out a lot. I learned that as long as I worry about today, tomorrow takes care of itself. All we can control is right now.

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.