Russell’s Story: I was dead on the inside

March 13, 1994 was the date that Russell took his last drink. For 25 years prior to that, Russell drank heavily.

“Before to coming to Renascent, I would have never believed that recovery was possible for me,” says Russell candidly. “I was as low as you could get without losing your life.”

Russell recalls meeting with his physician before entering treatment. The doctor’s words were sobering. “He looked at me and said, “If you don’t stop drinking you might as well shoot yourself. It will be a lot less painful,” shares Russell.  “When I got to Renascent they were amazing by my liver counts. They were surprised I wasn’t dead. But I was though – I was dead on the inside.”

In the almost 30 years that have followed since Russell found recovery at Renascent Paul J. Sullivan Centre, he has had what he calls “a new awakening.” He has nurtured new relationships, run his own business, and made it a point to be of service to the recovery community.

Sam, a Siberian Husky which Russell rescued.

Now retired, Russell spends his days doing things he enjoys. One of his newest loves is a Siberian Husky named Sam – a dog Russell and his wife rescued after its owner died from an opioid overdose.

Reflecting back on his time in addiction, Russell admits that he knew for many years he needed help. “I did what every heavy drinker does. I went through three marriages, lost my career, when to prison, and almost lost my life many times,” Russell shares.

Renewal came through Renascent.

“I found the experience to be very comforting and welcoming. You can’t say enough about the staff,” he says. “I knew when I went into Renascent that there was no way that I was going to live how I was living any longer. Renascent – no word of a lie – is a life-saver for me. Renascent gave me the tools and will to carry on.”

Russell admits that after he left treatment there was still a lot for him to work on. He blamed the world for his addiction and had to work through his anger and traumatic past.

“It still amazes me when I sit back and I think about my time in addiction and what compelled me to be like that,” shares Russell.

Closing in on 30 years of recovery, Russell offers hope and optimism to others.

“If it’s possible for me, it is possible for any body. There were so many years when I didn’t know if I would survive.”

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.