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Success Stories & Testimonials

Personal stories and testimonials of the Bellwood experience.

Read and watch personal stories and testimonials from our clients on their journey to recovery and the Bellwood experience.


Aftercare was a Vital Extension of My Inpatient Program

I knew I needed help desperately.  My life was completely out of control and I was slowly dying from my alcohol abuse.  I had become totally isolated and drinking constantly which in the end caused me alcoholic seizures and constant blackouts. I could not stop drinking which lead me to feel helpless, hopeless and in the end completely suicidal.

I cannot say enough about my experience at Bellwood.  I was so broken emotionally, physically and spiritually before I entered Bellwood. Bellwood being a treatment centre which provided me with education, nutrition, emotional and psychical rehabilitation in a safe environment especially since I had had childhood trauma, literally saved my life.

I have been sober for since July 23, 2007. I am now living life on life’s terms, reaching out for help when I need it and living one day at a time.  I have my family back in my life and now they come to me for emotional support and guidance instead of them being the parent and me being the sick child. My children ask me to help other people in their lives with substance abuse problems.  I refer those still suffering addicts to Bellwood and share my experience in treatment as the most important thing I have ever done in my life.

The Aftercare Program at Bellwood was my life line in maintaining my continued sobriety.  In the program I received continual support and guidance from my recovery counselor.  My Tuesday night group was a place where I could share honestly in a safe and supportive environment.   For me it was a vital extension of my inpatient program.

- B.Z.

I can’t wait for the next adventure!

I was in a very unhealthy marriage. My husband was domineering, a bully, and controlling. As hard as I could, nothing very seemed good enough for him. Our whole life circled around his career. It didn’t matter how I wanted to live my life. Instead of standing up for myself, I basically gave him permission to break my spirit. In response to my profound unhappiness I began to drink to escape and that landed me up into detox five times and three rehabs including Bellwood. My husband left me the day I got out of my first rehab. I came home on Thanksgiving weekend 2009 with my husband of 18 years gone. No note. Just booze everywhere.

As of April 11, 2013, I’m nine months sober. The AA promises are being fulfilled. What once baffled me I can handle easily. I’ve been able to travel extensively and go to meetings internationally. I’m back at work, going to lots of meetings, AA & NA conferences, getting a Culinary Arts Professional Fromage certificate at George Brown College. I now have lots of friends in recovery. I can’t wait for the next adventure.

Bellwood was my third treatment centre in three years. I enjoyed my experience at Bellwood because of its holistic approach. Emphasis on nutrition, physical activities, meditation, relapse prevention, goal setting, and PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms) topped with a long-term Aftercare program were crucial to me success in sobriety.

- Beverly B.

Now I am in a Very Healthy Place

I was a life-time drinker.  I worked on Bay Street, enjoyed martini lunches and the party scene.  I even experimented with marijuana and cocaine, but alcohol was my life.  My job involved travelling and entertaining and there was always an environment where alcohol was readily available.  I found myself always thinking about when I would get my next drink, and would try to arrange to have continual access to alcohol.  For the last 4-5 years, I truly became a 24/7 drinker.  I began to have health issues and problems with my marriage, and finally realized I needed to do something before things became even worse.  So I tried to stop on my own, with no support or programs.  I relapsed and was kicked out of the house.  My drinking continued until I finally realized that I would die if I did not do something. 

This time, I knew I could not do it on my own.  I had heard about Bellwood and its reputation.  In 2011, I detoxed, came to Bellwood for an assessment, and stayed for treatment.  I did not know what to expect.  I had no experience with AA and had had a bad experience with therapy.  I was jaded, I had a big ego and my self-esteem had hit rock-bottom.  What I found at Bellwood was a community that cared about everyone.  I valued the personal approach of the doctors, therapists and recovery counsellors.  Bellwood’s holistic approach made me realise that it was not just about the addiction.  It was what I needed to get start to get my life back on track.  Bellwood’s aftercare was a big part of the program, and I continue to be involved.  I also heard about their relapse prevention program.  I attended it in the afternoons as an outpatient, and attended meetings in the morning.  I completely immersed myself in these programs and groups.  Bellwood got me sober and gave me the tools to stay sober.  My recovery counsellor talked about the importance of having support groups, so I also made AA a huge part of my recovery.  I joined a home group, found a sponsor and continue to work the steps every day.

I spoke with my boss about making some changes to my work routine, which would not have been a good fit for any of the parties involved.  I left the organization, and felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders, as it gave me time to focus on my recovery.  I chose to listen to the experts at Bellwood and my friends in AA, and now I am in a very healthy place.  My life is better than I could have ever imagined.  I have reconciled with my wife and we have moved to a new house.  I am grateful for the support I have had and the opportunities I enjoy as my recovery continues. If you choose to work hard and make changes in your life, the rewards are remarkable!

- B.H.

The Bellwood Family Aftercare program has been responsible for giving us new insights

I am the mother of two adult children, a daughter who is 38, and a son who is 34. Our son is a recovering alcoholic who is currently 14 months sober. My husband and I have struggled with his addiction since he was 18, and even attempted our own family intervention with him 2 years ago, but it took his own realization to attend Bellwood and start his recovery process. We went through many years of personal angst and marital strife surrounding his drinking.

We now have the knowledge and understanding of the addictive personality, and have gained new patience and trust in our dealings with our son.

The Bellwood Family Aftercare program has been responsible for giving us new insights into our everyday dealings with family, friends and co-workers. Both my husband and I have found a deeper love, understanding and compassion for each other, and all of our dealings with family and associates are flavoured with our lessons learned at Bellwood. The people that we have met there have become our extended family, and this experience has indeed been a turning point in our lives. Our thanks to you all!

- Heddy

I Never Would have Dreamed that a Life Lived in Recovery Could be so Fulfilling

I was out of control....although I didn't know it at the time. A $200-$300 a day crack addict, I had to use just to get through the day. It was no longer a choice of whether or not to get high...I had to! And yet a part of me thought I had it under control.... I was okay.... in spite of the fact that I was a pathological liar and I was stealing money and hawking my wife's jewellery just to get my hands on a few bucks so that I could make the next score. My life was spiraling out of control and I was the ONLY one who didn't know it. It wasn't until my wife threatened to leave me that the thought crossed my mind that I needed help.  In spite of repeated efforts to stop on my own, I couldn't.....the disease of addiction was too formidable an opponent.

At Bellwood, I was removed from the daily grind of waking up....getting money....scoring.....and getting high. I suddenly had a new and much healthier routine of waking up.....exercising.....eating properly and being part of a community of people who were just like me.....who had done and thought the same things. For the first time, I felt understood. I was no longer alone. I attended classes and participated in group therapy where I learned that I wasn't morally bankrupt...I was sick.....and more importantly, I could get well. Bellwood provided me with the knowledge and a set of tools that has enabled me to stay clean one day a time. I never thought I could get through one day without using. Bellwood's holistic approach addressed my physical, emotional and spiritual needs in a compassionate and understanding way. They saved my life!

Today, my life isn't perfect. I still have challenges but I know I'm capable of meeting life's challenges without having to seek a chemical solution to my problems. I'm part of a recovery community and I'm connected to a group of people - whether through 12 Step meetings or aftercare – who are there to support me and help guide me.....one day at a time. I now volunteer at Bellwood and try to give back what was so freely given to me. I never would have dreamed that a life lived in recovery could be so fulfilling, so meaningful and so life enhancing.

- David G

My Life Was a Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

Before attending Bellwood, my life was a train wreck waiting to happen.  I was drinking in excess every day and often having blackouts and not remembering many hours of the night before.  I had hurt those in my life closest to me with my drinking, lying and all the baggage that comes with an addiction.  I laugh today when I hear people say they were a “functioning alcoholic”.  I am not sure what that means but I know in my situation, I thought I was fooling everyone - but I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself.  People knew that if they needed me for any work-related issues, they better see me in the morning or else they could not count on me being there in the afternoons.  My health, my finances, my relationships were all strained to the breaking point, until I finally hit rock bottom …….

I am now a year sober and my life is amazing!  I have started to regain the trust I burned with the people closest to me, and realize who in my life are really important.  I have four amazing grandchildren that I have a great relationship with and I am so proud to have them call me Grandpa.  My kids have their father back, and the love of my life, my girlfriend, has the man she knew was inside of me ……. finally.  We built our dream home on 9.5 acres and have an amazing life ahead of us.  My finances are on the rebound.  I have started going back to the gym with dedication and I am in the best shape of my life.  I still have thoughts of drinking but now have the tools to deal with them on a more mature level.

All of this I can thank Bellwood for.  I truly believe that I might be dead by now if not for Bellwood, as I was drinking more and more.  I was scared to make the initial contact and was discouraged by the waiting period presented to me by other facilities.  Somehow the staff at Bellwood recognized my desperation and they made it happen.  I was truly very nervous on my drive to Bellwood but little did I know it would be one of the best decisions of my life.  All the staff at Bellwood made me feel comfortable and unjudged.  I met some wonderful people who were there at the same time.  The sessions at Bellwood were very informative and I learned many new skills to deal with my addiction.  I won’t say the sessions were all easy, but they were necessary and beneficial.  I learned so much at Bellwood that I have brought back into the real world. I am finally at a point where I do not fear those thoughts of drinking, as I feel that I have the tools to deal with them.  I had to make many changes in my life regarding the places and people I hung around with, but I knew after leaving Bellwood that the people who truly cared for my well-being would still be there.  I carry my graduation medallion in my pocket every day to remind me of my wonderful experience at Bellwood.  

I will never be able to thank all of you at Bellwood enough!

- Rob

Strategies for dealing with life in recovery

Life with an addict was like the worst kind of roller-coaster. I never knew what to expect from my husband. There were mood swings, periods when he would disappear or not communicate at all, as well as random blow ups for no reason. I found myself making excuses to the kids and others about his unpredictable behaviour. I wasn’t comfortable lying but was at a loss for what else to do; I felt like our lives were completely out of control.

After treatment and some time in healthy recovery, I feel we are both the best possible versions of ourselves. We took advantage of Bellwood’s counselling services on several occasions. Today, we have a healthy, loving and respectful relationship; we’ve learned about effective communication and setting priorities. I know that I can count on my husband.

I was hesitant about attending Bellwood’s Family Program because I thought my husband was the one with the problem. The staff and volunteers taught me so much about the role I play in our relationship, how to look after myself and all kinds of strategies for dealing with life in recovery. I am so grateful for what I’ve learned and continue to learn at Bellwood.

- CV

My Kids Have Their Father Back

Before attending Bellwood, my life was a train wreck waiting to happen.  I was drinking in excess every day and often having blackouts and not remembering many hours of the night before.  I had hurt those in my life closest to me with my drinking, lying and all the baggage that comes with an addiction.  I laugh today when I hear people say they were a “functioning alcoholic”.  I am not sure what that means but I know in my situation, I thought I was fooling everyone - but I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself.  People knew that if they needed me for any work-related issues, they better see me in the morning or else they could not count on me being there in the afternoons.  My health, my finances, my relationships were all strained to the breaking point, until I finally hit rock bottom ……

I am now a year sober and my life is amazing!  I have started to regain the trust I burned with the people closest to me, and realize who in my life are really important.  I have four amazing grandchildren that I have a great relationship with and I am so proud to have them call me Grandpa.  My kids have their father back, and the love of my life, my girlfriend, has the man she knew was inside of me ……. finally.  We built our dream home on 9.5 acres and have an amazing life ahead of us.  My finances are on the rebound.  I have started going back to the gym with dedication and I am in the best shape of my life.  I still have thoughts of drinking but now have the tools to deal with them on a more mature level.

All of this I can thank Bellwood for.  I truly believe that I might be dead by now if not for Bellwood, as I was drinking more and more.  I was scared to make the initial contact and was discouraged by the waiting period presented to me by other facilities.  Somehow the staff at Bellwood recognized my desperation and they made it happen.  I was truly very nervous on my drive to Bellwood but little did I know it would be one of the best decisions of my life.  All the staff at Bellwood made me feel comfortable and unjudged.  I met some wonderful people who were there at the same time.  The sessions at Bellwood were very informative and I learned many new skills to deal with my addiction.  I won’t say the sessions were all easy, but they were necessary and beneficial.  I learned so much at Bellwood that I have brought back into the real world. I am finally at a point where I do not fear those thoughts of drinking, as I feel that I have the tools to deal with them.  I had to make many changes in my life regarding the places and people I hung around with, but I knew after leaving Bellwood that the people who truly cared for my well-being would still be there.  I carry my graduation medallion in my pocket every day to remind me of my wonderful experience at Bellwood.  

I will never be able to thank all of you at Bellwood enough!

- Rob

My Life Has Changed for the Better

Having been in recovery now since 2004, I can honestly say my life has changed for the better in so many ways. I was, as it is sometimes described, "a functioning alcoholic", (we are all functioning at some point aren’t we?), which in itself is a bit of an oxymoron. I had a job, my family was still with me and I owned a house. Of course, all of it hanging by a very thin thread.

When I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem, AND asked for help, I was fortunate enough to get into the treatment program at Bellwood. My recovery process started, and as I accepted that I am an addict/alcoholic, life became so much easier to live, and to be part of. Anxieties left me, I became a caring person again, selfishness faded away, I became a better father and husband and more productive at work. In other words, I have become a caring human being and part of society again.

These days, life IS beautiful. Of course, it is not all a bed of roses just because I am in recovery, but the difference now is that I have the coping skills to deal with situations instead of fleeing from them by using drugs or alcohol. As long as I remember whom I am and what I am, and deal with my feelings and situations honestly, I will not use alcohol or drugs. To do that, I make sure I talk to other people in recovery on a regular basis. If I don't, I will go back to using, and I certainly don't want to do that, because that was a very, very dark place.

KH

PS. I still have my family, house and job.

Bellwood Was an Excellent Experience that Saved My Life, Literally!

Addiction and PTSD Testimonial

I am a serving member of a large police force. In 2007, I was diagnosed with PTSD and took off seven months to try and regain control of my life. I was very anxious, distant from others spending much of my time isolated and alone. I was unable to get any sleep and I found myself sweating profusely for no reason at all. My social life at the time was pretty much non-existent. I had recurring intrusive thoughts of violent events I was involved in prior to being diagnosed. These events were in my thoughts on a regular basis but after my time off, I felt I could live a calmer life. I was offered the services of Bellwood but I declined because I was too proud and my ego was in full swing. In 2009, my symptoms returned stronger than ever. I coped by drinking, and this created much distance from my spouse. The intrusive thoughts were consuming my time and my hyper-vigilance was extreme. I was back to isolating and was fully disconnected from anyone. I was so anxious, I felt cold sensations. I would not go where there was any sort of crowd and I was constantly hyper-vigilant of people around me. I wore a mask to prevent others from seeing the pain I was in. Nearing the end, I drank every day just to try and stay level. My symptoms were out of control to the point where I was both suicidal and homicidal. I was out of touch.  Bellwood was again offered and I took the opportunity to regain control of myself. My partner left me because of my inability to stop drinking or control myself.

Now it is 2013, I am still a serving member with the same police force. I have the appropriate medications to manage my symptoms and to get the sleep needed to be in a good state of recovery. Most days are fine but I still have to self-monitor myself daily, which I can now do effectively. I have learned healthy coping skills which I turn to when I can feel my symptoms coming on. In terms of recovery, I go to AA meetings three times per week, I have two PTSD physicians who I speak to on a regular basis and an addictions counsellor who is very helpful. Although I don't like it, I have the capacity to be in a crowd without spending all my time scanning people. I still see others as danger but I am able to ground myself when I begin to feel anxious. I do not drink anymore and this is vital so I can feel my PTSD coming on. I have shared my story with others and have a social life that is healthy and rewarding. I don't wear a "happy mask" anymore and I am able to tell others when they are triggering me instead of isolating. Overall, my support system and friends are very helpful and see me as a courageous individual fighting an illness that brought me to my knees. 

Bellwood Health Services was critical to my survival. The staff are very caring and listen to their clients. The staff do what they say they will do and they take the time to be available. Their professional experiences have helped me to live a life that is healthy and happy. The PTSD program and addiction programs are excellent and without their expertise, I would not be here to write this testimonial. I would recommend their services to anyone who suffers from PTSD or any addiction.

The PTSD program involves group sessions and various other sessions which taught me how to cope and ground myself when my symptoms started. The skills are simple and work! The program offers clients the opportunity to move forward at their own pace, there is no forcing of any kind. However, there are guidelines and work to do. The expectation is the client will make the effort and do the work to better themselves. The staff was always there when I needed support and I will forever be grateful for their care.

The addictions program was excellent. It involved lectures from skilled doctors who specialize in addictions. There are AA meetings on a regular basis for support. The group work was excellent for me and allowed me to conduct a full investigation of myself. In my case, involved dealing with the addiction because it was alcohol that prevented me from understanding how to deal with the deeper issue of PTSD. The staff were excellent and very supportive. 

I recently attended Bellwood’s mini-treatment aftercare program. This was an excellent couple days which brought me right back to my positive time at Bellwood. There were doctor sessions and group sessions which allowed the client to share their experiences since they graduated. I have brought home three techniques which I did not know so I have gained further knowledge for my own aftercare at home.

Overall, Bellwood was an excellent experience that saved my life, literally!

- T.C.

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