Calgary Dream Centre
4510 Macleod Trail SW Calgary AB T2G 0A4 (403) 243-5598

Recovery is Starting to Feel NaturalVern's Story

I have been on the journey of recovery for 30 years. At one point, I decided to clean up my life for the women I married. However, my job started taking me out of town and I started to use substances while I was away from my family. After some time, I noticed I was increasingly looking forward to leaving town just so I could use. I became what you would identify as a “functioning addict”. 

Eventually my wife and I decided to divorce. After that, I had nothing to keep me straight and sober during my time at home. Addiction ran my life, and I became a slave to it. I started feeling so empty and hopeless inside. After four years of using, I ended up in a treatment facility because I had tried to take my own life. 

My sister’s neighbour happened to be a case manager at the Calgary Dream Centre. After she shared my story with this case manager, he recommended I enroll in the CDC’s Men’s Recovery Program. When I eventually agreed to go, he made sure I had a space in the program. When I first walked through the main facility doors, I was skinny, scared and my heart was shattered. Until I saw our receptionist who smiled at me and told me I was going to be okay.

Going through my program gave me hope that despite my past of addiction there was a light at the end of the tunnel. At first, I really was not into the faith side of things. I did not believe in miracles or God. However, one day, after thoroughly cleaning my room. I left and came back to a little white book that said, “You are so loved”. It was the book of John from the Bible. I asked several people if they had placed it there. No one had. I talked to my counsellor about this, and he helped me find the source I was looking for. From that point forward, my life changed and the hole in my heart I tried to fill with substances was filled by love.

As part of giving back, I started teaching a “body, mind and spirit class” to the program residents. I am passionate about fitness and enjoy using my knowledge of personal training to help those overcoming addiction reach their fitness goals. Fitness is an important part of recovery. When I was doing drugs, I picked substances where my endorphins and dopamine would go up in a quick blast. When I was not using, I was left yearning for that “blast” again.

Fitness helps you get that “blast” in a healthy way, and I encourage all residents I speak with to consider fitness as part of their healing journey in recovery. It is not just good for their bodies; it is great for creating connection. Going to the gym with one another creates comradery amongst us. It helps rebuild self esteem which many of us have lost in addiction. When you can start seeing yourself changed and transformed in the mirror. It is a great feeling. It often reflects the transformation that is going on inside of us too.

I have been here at the CDC long enough that recovery is starting to feel natural.  I am transitioning from working here to going back to my previous career as a welder. While I am moving forward, I will continue to be involved. The Dream Centre has helped me build a life worth living. Now, I want to continue to help others that come here build meaningful lives filled with hope.

The Calgary Dream Centre is FULL of hope. I love being around people who are deciding to change their lives. That itself is a reason to hope. It is always a fresh brand-new day here for those who want life change. 

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The Calgary Dream Centre acknowledges with humble gratitude that our organization is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Iyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta District 6, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.