Sam’s Story: “Renascent will always hold a special place in my heart.”

“I started using drugs when I was 13 or 14,” Sam says.  “But the drugs weren’t really my problem – I was.  I really wanted to feel good all the time, which isn’t possible.  So I turned to substances to achieve that.”

As Sam got older his addiction grew progressively worse, and in his late teens he began using opiates. When he lost his mother, “things went downhill really quickly,” he says. “Opiates do same thing for emotional pain as they do for physical pain, and I started using heavily; it wasn’t even about getting high as much as it was about coping. I was just trying to feel ‘okay.’”

His family staged an intervention, and Sam’s long treatment journey began. Over the ensuing years he entered programs in Canada and the United States nine times – but while he was physically present, he continued to use.

“I still had the great obsession of every user, that that one day I’d ‘beat the system,’” he explains. “But eventually I understood that I couldn’t control my addiction. I couldn’t stop.”

When Sam arrived at Renascent, he immediately called his family to pick him up. Once he attended a session, however, he told them he would stay. “I just got the impression that the counsellors really knew what they were doing,” he recalls. “I called my family and said, ‘this is a good place.’”

Still, Sam continued to struggle.

“When I got home, I did nothing Renascent told me to do,” he admits. Rock bottom came in the form of an infection from dirty syringes that lead to three emergency surgeries, two on Sam’s brain.

“I woke up and the whole left side of my body was paralyzed from neck down,” he says. “The consequences of my drug use were starting to pile up, and you’d think that would have been enough.”

He pauses. “You’d think.”

Sam spent weeks in the hospital, where he learned how to walk, use his left hand again – and have drugs delivered. He overdosed twice from his wheelchair.

“It was never going to be enough for me,” he admits. “I didn’t want to die – I’d never wanted that. But at that point, the idea of living without drugs was scarier to me than dying. It wasn’t dying I was afraid of; it was living.”

Eventually, Sam realized he’d had enough. “The pain of staying the same had finally outweighed the pain of change,” he says simply. He went to detox and called his sponsor, who he’d met at Renascent. Sam’s sponsor immediately “put me to work,” Sam says. It was just what he needed.

“The program doesn’t reward people who ‘want to be sober,’” he asserts, “it rewards people who want to be sober and are willing to go to any lengths to stay sober. It’s about a number of key concepts including honesty, most importantly with yourself. How badly do you want this? Willingness: what lengths are you willing to go to for recovery? Humility: are you willing to ask for help? 

You have to recognize that history shows you don’t know anything about staying sober, but maybe someone who does can show you how to do the same.”

Today, that’s a message Sam shares often as a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor and a proud member of the Renascent Alumni Committee. When he’s not counselling men at work, Sam is actively serving others at meetings, sharing the message of recovery and working with sponsees.

“I don’t think I’d be alive without Renascent today,” he reflects. “Looking back, I can see that every moment in my recovery journey has happened for a reason. The tears, the resistance, the resentment, and the people I’ve met along the way.

Renascent will always hold a special place in my heart.”

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.