“My substance abuse career began at age seven,” Shiloh says, “and at its height I was living in a beautiful four-bedroom house with my partner and wonderful kids.
Actually, I was living in my garage – because that’s where I could isolate myself, drink and smoke crack. I had no interest in being in my house.”
While the garage had been his refuge, ironically it was also there that Shiloh decided he’d had enough. Reflecting on his life one day, he suddenly had what he describes as an “awakening.”
“I just realized that if I kept using, I would follow my father to an early grave,” he says. “My family had told me that for years, but it hit me so clearly in that moment that I was overwhelmed. At the same time, something in me knew I had to get help. The knowledge that I could felt like a prayer answered.”
After researching treatment options and scouring online reviews, Shiloh took a bus to Toronto and found his way to Renascent.
“I’ll never forget the day I arrived,” he recalls. “There was a raging snowstorm and I was all alone, in a city I’d never been in, about to commit to something I knew little about. I was so scared.
As I started up the walkway, I saw that a counsellor was waiting for me. He threw open the front door and welcomed me, literally, with open arms. It felt like he was a family member I hadn’t yet met, and it was the start of one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.”
At Renascent, Shiloh realized for the first time that he wasn’t alone in his thoughts and feelings. “From a masculine point of view, it was the first time I was able to put pride and ego away and be soft and emotional. I was free to be able to just express my feelings and past traumas with a group of men who had the exact same goals. Those conversations were instrumental to my recovery, and they never would have happened otherwise.”
More than four years later, Shiloh’s life is nearly unrecognizable. No longer interested in self-isolation, he’s working on starting his fourth business while completing his third college diploma and pursuing opportunities across the globe. He describes himself as “trustworthy, accountable and reliable,” and his children regularly refer to him as the strongest person they know.
And when life brings challenges, “today, I fall forward,” he says. “I don’t fall back. I’m really living life now, really experiencing joy. Before, I wasn’t living. I was just breathing. Today, I’m focused on helping others and leaving behind a legacy.”
When he reflects on the snowy bus ride that first brought him to Renascent, Shiloh offers advice from the heart.
“If you’re struggling, it probably feels selfish to take this time and focus on yourself. But that’s just what you need to do. If you are considering reaching out, just do it. Call the counsellor, go to detox, attend the meeting. Don’t overanalyze it, or you won’t make it there.
Jump. Go. That’s it. Take the leap.
Commit to your life. It can be so much better than you imagine.”