Shannon’s story: Trading in Hopelessness for Hopefulness

I discovered alcohol and drugs at 17 years old when I went away to university.  Very quickly alcohol became my ‘everything’.  It was my coping mechanism for all things. It made me feel larger than life, uninhibited, and comfortable with my peers. 

Alcohol slowly began to interfere with my daily living.  My life began revolving around my drinking and using.  Sober I felt inadequate, uncomfortable, ugly and a failure. 

Fast forward 17 years and my life was an absolute wreck. I was close to having nowhere to live, I couldn’t hold down a job, I’d burned every single friendship, and blew up many bridges. My family was literally waiting for that call to come and identify my body. I felt completely vacant and I wanted to die.  I tried to die.  But I’m still here.

I went to Renascent around 1999.  Renascent granted me two incredible gifts.  One, it planted a seed.  I was about 11 months clean before I went back out, returning to my old ways. But that seed, despite everything continued to grow.  Slowly it got bigger and bigger until finally it blossomed when I decided I didn’t want to die, and started to take Renascent’s teachings seriously, and apply them to my life.

The second, and most precious gift Renascent provided was hope.  I’ve had an extremely difficult and complicated relationship with hope.  At six months old I got sick.  This disease, which is still present today, manifested itself with chronic and constant pain, overwhelming fatigue and deformity.  The only way to correct these deformities were surgeries to replace or rebuild the affected areas.  At first, at 14 when my surgical journey began, I had hope.  Hope that it would all end after this surgery.  Somewhere between then and surgical procedure number 42 I lost hope.  Not only did I lose hope, but I began to view hope as a dangerous emotion.  It became my nemesis, my enemy.  I resigned myself to a hopeless life, and drank, and used to cope.

When I finally decided to really give myself a shot at sober living, I didn’t have a lot of hope.  But I had nothing left to lose at that point. I turned to the seed Renascent had planted all those years ago and started to live my life using all of those tenets they laid down for me.  Very slowly, hope was renewed. Each sober day brought me closer to hope for a better life – a life where I could become whole, and comfortable in my own authenticity.  A life where I could not only accept my disease but embrace it.

I once read a quote from Michael J. Fox where he said “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it”.  Renascent, it’s sense of community, its teachings, it’s commitment to service is my way through it.  Hope is my way through it. 

Hope offers me a choice.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to be hopeful in all things.  I choose to understand that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional.  I choose to live my life being authentic and uniquely me.  I choose HOPE.

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