Shawn’s Story: From “Floating Through Life” to Fully Accountable

For the first part of his life, “I didn’t have to try too hard,” Shawn admits.

An honour role student and athlete, he’d been accepted at a great university and recruited to play soccer.  But when an injury sidelined his athletic season, Shawn found himself struggling to cope.

“I was feeling sorry for myself, drinking and using drugs regularly,” he admits, “and I began isolating myself from my friends. The truth is, things that used to be important to me just weren’t anymore.

That lasted about 16 years.”

As his addiction grew, Shawn faced another unexpected challenge – he was experiencing enough financial success to fund his drug and alcohol use. “I had started my own hockey agency and was representing professional players at the time,” he shares, “and in the background I was treating the business as a bank account.

I kept blowing through money, and my addiction took off in part because I suddenly had the means to use all the time.”

His family’s concern prompted Shawn to access treatment – a decision he admits to approaching strategically. “When picking a centre, I deliberately avoided anything based on the 12 Steps, anything that referenced God or a higher power. My recovery lasted maybe a week, and after that things just got worse.”

As his addiction progressed, “my business started to falter,” he says. “I wasn’t showing up the way I wanted to for my clients, and I felt a real sense of guilt that I wasn’t doing the job I was paid for to the best of my ability. I was failing at relationships, at work and outside of it. And I wasn’t taking accountability – I had money coming in, but I certainly wasn’t paying my bills on time.

I was floating through life.”

When a relationship failed right before Christmas, Shawn’s world came crashing down. “I wasn’t in a good spot,” he says. “I went on a three-day bender; I had a drug dealer coming to my house. I remember thinking I probably don’t want to be here anymore.”

Aware that a family friend had attended a program at Renascent, Shawn decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be the right thing, at the right time.

“My experience in treatment was really positive,” he says. “I needed to step away from the distractions; I needed a full reset, someone to talk to honestly, and the opportunity to be around people going through the same thing. I’m so grateful for counsellors who supported me on my journey.”

Today, Shawn is over 30 months into recovery, newly married and successfully employed. He doesn’t hesitate when asked about his biggest lesson to date.

“Just because I’m sober doesn’t mean I’m not going to have good days and bad days,” he says. “But even if I have a bad day, it doesn’t mean I need a drink or a drug to get through it.

I’ve learned to be accountable, and to have a little patience.”

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