No one knows AARC better than the graduates and their families. Here’s what they have to say about their experiences.

“Recovery homes are an amazing component of the AARC treatment model.”
Graduate Mother

Recovery homes are an amazing component of the AARC treatment model. When it came time for us to open our host home, AARC provided us with thorough training and checked our house with the utmost care to ensure safety for all …. Our daughter was trained as a host home old comer so she could provide leadership with the newcomer … Not only did this provide our daughter with an opportunity to take responsibility, regain healthy boundaries, and give back to other young people, it once again modelled to new clients that there is a way out of the disease of addiction.

“After multiple suicide attempts, a couple of hospitalizations, and failed attempts at sobriety and recovery … I lived in fear of that phone call …”
Graduate Mother

By the time my youngest daughter entered the AARC program at the age of 14, her drug and alcohol use was out of control and our whole family was desperate, defeated torn apart, and completely helpless. After multiple suicide attempts,a couple of hospitalizations, and failed attempts at sobriety and recovery … I lived in fear of that phone call telling me my young daughter had been found dead in a dumpster somewhere.

“I have found peace and serenity where once there was just chaos and insanity.”
Graduate Parents #505

After trying several other addiction programs without success … I learned of AARC. I have found peace and serenity where once there was just chaos and insanity. I have found hope when things seemed so hopeless. Since graduating from AARC’s program, she celebrated her 17th birthday, got her driver’s licence, is attending high school, and continues to give back and provide hope to other girls still in the program. AARC restored our family and saved my young daughter’s life …

“Initially, the commitment to the program seemed daunting and overwhelming, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my family”
Dona M. – Graduate Parent #268

Eleven years ago, as a result of his addiction to alcohol and drugs, my son had stopped attending school, had given up a promising future in hockey and healthy supportive friendships. We were a family in crisis and after meetings with management at his school, counsellors and visits to doctors at the hospital we found our way to AARC. Initially, the commitment to the program seemed daunting and overwhelming, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my family. Today, I have a great life and am very proud of my son’s accomplishments and successes. When he is not completing his master’s degree in psychology, he works at AARC giving help and support to other youth who have destroyed their lives through addiction. Our family’s return to health and happiness started with our first day at AARC. I will always be grateful to the amazing staff of this organization because they went the distance, no one else would, for every member of my family.

“After multiple suicide attempts, a couple of hospitalizations, and failed attempts at sobriety and recovery, Jessica refused to live at home …”
Laura N. – Graduate Parent #505

By the time my youngest daughter Jessica entered the AARC program at the age of 14, her drug and alcohol use was out of control and our whole family was desperate, defeated, torn apart, and completely hopeless. After multiple suicide attempts, a couple of hospitalizations, and failed attempts at sobriety and recovery, Jessica refused to live at home, rarely attended school, had alienated her older brother and sister, and was in trouble with the police. It seemed like Jess hated me…really hated me. I felt hurt and rejected and I mourned the loss of the close relationship we once had. I felt like a total failure as a parent as I watched her spiral out of control and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I lived in fear…fear of that phone call telling me my young daughter had been found dead in a dumpster somewhere. After trying several other addiction programs without success, and feeling so helpless and lost, it was through a work associate that I learned of AARC. Working through the treatment process at AARC, I have seen family relationships devastated by self-will and a disease beyond all understanding, mended.

I have found peace and serenity where once there was just chaos and insanity. I have found hope when things seemed so hopeless. I have found happiness where once there was just hurt, pain and sadness. I have found love where once there was just anger, hate, and resentment. Since graduating from AARC’s program, Jessica celebrated her 17th birthday, got her driver’s license (yikes), is attending high school, and continues to give back and provide hope to other girls still in the program. AARC restored our family and saved my young daughter’s life and for that I am forever grateful.

“For seven years, we tried everything we could think of but every night we went to bed praying that they would live to see the next day.”
Pat W. – Graduate Parent #342 & #344

Our life before AARC was a complete nightmare, something that I never ever thought would happen to my family. My husband and I did all the things we thought parents should do with their kids. We went on camping and skiing holidays. We went hiking together, had family dinners, registered them in sports, etc. etc. but none of this could save my two younger sons from getting into drugs and alcohol. For seven years, we tried everything we could think of but every night we went to bed praying that they would live to see the next day. I prayed to find someone who could relate to them because I knew in my heart my husband and I were not the answer. I had heard about AARC in 2003 from a graduate of the program who shared her story about how AARC had basically saved her life. However, denial is very powerful and it wasn’t until 2006 that our denial finally shattered and we knew we needed expert help. Dr. Vause and his caring staff turned out to be the answer to my prayers. They could relate to my sons and help them see that drugs and alcohol were not the solution but in fact, the problem. Our youngest son, who was 17 at the time, went into AARC first and then 10 days later, our middle son at 19 years of age, signed himself in.

We spent just over 8 months in AARC and all 5 family members received help. It has been over 8 years now since we walked through the doors of AARC and our life has changed dramatically for the better. We still have our ups and downs but thanks to AARC we now have a true family, one that is not only surviving but thriving. AARC is the only solution for adolescents who are out of control with their addictions. I would highly recommend the program.

“Tensions were high at home as behaviours escalated to multiple suicide attempts and hospitalizations.”
Maureen T. – Graduate Parent #527 & #530

Our boys began to use drugs and alcohol in middle school. They would crawl out the basement window and roam Fish Creek Park. As lying and sneaking out became chronic, so did their drug and alcohol use. Parenting them seemed to become a battle of wits; parents’ vs kids. We began to feel hopeless as their drug and alcohol use went from occasional to the most important and driving focus of their existence. We became more and more controlling in an attempt to keep them safe; there were multiple groundings, random middle of the night checks, and times that we would confiscate cell phones to scroll through messages to determine if we had something to worry about. Tensions were high at home as behaviours escalated to multiple suicide attempts and hospitalizations. There were sleepless nights and a constant preoccupation with how they were doing. We felt hopeless in our attempts to help them, to manage them, and to find answers. And then we found AARC. AARC required our time, our commitment, our willingness to work for something better, and our honesty. And with that came relief, joy, and a renewed relationship with ourselves, our kids, and each other. Our boys have been treated for drug and alcohol addiction and the rest of the family now has new tools in our toolkit to handle the curves that life throws at us. Today we can proudly say that we have four kids; while 2 are addicts and 2 have serious mental health issues, we have a fantastic relationship with all four of them. We have our lives back; our future back, and we are HAPPIER than we have ever been. Thank you AARC.”

“My son did not think he had a problem when he went in {to AARC} and was furious. It was about 2 months before he realized that he did have a problem.”
Cathy W. – Graduate Parent #442

My son was a delight to the family. He got along with his siblings, had many friends and was easy-going, kind and honest. He loved sports and made good grades in school. Then came the day I found marijuana in his room. That was the start of a nightmare that kept getting worse with time. I had a heart-to-heart conversation with him, and he said he’d never do it again. In grade 9 my son was caught with drug paraphernalia at school. The police were called and he had to do community service. Soon after finishing community service he came home high. I would find and throw away pipes and other drug items only to keep finding more in his room. Our discussions turned to arguments. My husband and I put on the happy face at work, while feeling anguish inside. We felt we had failed our son somehow.

We took our son to get counselling. He gave the counsellor the “right” answers and the counsellor decided that our son was a great kid with no problems. I don’t know if the second counsellor was helpful to him, but the drug and alcohol use continued and escalated. I was noticing the signs that the police say to watch for. His grades fell. He had new friends and didn’t see his old friends. He began avoiding the family and spending more time in his room. The money he earned from his part-time jobs was all spent with nothing to show for it. He became skinny. He stopped eating breakfast and instead went to school early to meet his new friends there. He didn’t eat lunch and skipped classes. The light went out of his eyes and he looked empty. He was lifeless and my husband and I were feeling it in the pit of our stomachs. Consequences and punishments had no effect.

My experience with the counsellors showed me that not all programs available to help teens know how to deal with teen addiction. AARC has recovered alcoholics and addicts working there, which makes sense to me. They are familiar with the lies and tricks that a teen will use in order to keep getting drugs. They understand the obsession to get high. The teen then knows that ‘this is a person who knows how I think, why I do the things I do’. When I finally found out about AARC, my husband and I wasted no time to get our son there because we were afraid for his life.

In the rehabilitation program at AARC, the whole family is treated. Parents don’t think they need treatment, but we healed and found badly needed support from other families there who were going through the same thing. We made many friends from all walks of life who were just as heartbroken as we were. Part of the AARC program is to take home other teens that are in treatment for the night. Those we took home were aged 13 to 21 years old and we took them home several times a week for 5 months. They were just like any other teenager – funny, bright and we enjoyed their company. This is how they are when they are not on drugs. They are not bad kids, they are young and they need help.

It’s good that AARC’s program is a long treatment program. My son did not think he had a problem when he went in and was furious. It was about 2 months before he realized that he did have a problem. It was 4 months before he was ready to have some time at home. He was in treatment 8 months in all. During that time I saw the spark return to his eyes. He grew healthier and happier. He finished the program with a desire to remain sober and his siblings, my husband and I are all thrilled to have him back in our lives. Today he is 5 years sober and is attending University of Calgary making exceptional grades. We will forever be grateful to AARC – they were able to reach our son when we could not.

“Our biggest fear was that our son would die on the streets in Calgary, and that we could not help him We felt completely powerless …”
Larry and Gloria H. – Graduate Parents #361

If you are reading this and are concerned about your child, I would say to go with your gut feeling and contact AARC. They will not keep your child if they determine that your child does not need to be there. But don’t assume that their alcohol or drug use is just a phase or something that they’ll grow out of, because it may mean their life.

We came to AARC in 2007 as a last hope that we could save our son’s life and ours. We were desperate, lonely, and helpless, AARC was our last hope! Our biggest fear was that our son would die on the streets in Calgary, and that we could not help him. We felt completely powerless, fearful, and helpless. We knew we had to do something for our family. Our journey in AARC was difficult but so worth it! At the end of our treatment, we knew that it was up to us to put into action what we learned every day in treatment! AARC taught us that no matter what happened to our son we could live our life to the fullest, and that what we all learned was much more that we had imagined. The ongoing support we had would mean we never had to be alone again!

Thank you does not seem to be enough but all we can do is to continue to live the program and share with others our experience, strength and hope! Thank you, we are forever grateful!

“Thankfully AARC insisted on treating the whole family, otherwise I don’t think I would have had it in me to ever trust him (or myself) again.”
Paula R. – Graduate Parent #358

Eight years ago, you would never have convinced me we would be enjoying time together as a family. Before we went to AARC, I remember waiting in a restaurant for Thanksgiving because Jordan’s sister Cassia was so desperate to see her brother who was 16 and not living with us. We were stood up for drugs, again.

When we went to AARC, I was just hoping we could drop Jordan off and run. I was a crazy mom trying to shut a difficult son and situation out of my heart and mind. Needless to say, I had become a much colder person than I had ever imagined in an effort to cope in any capacity. Thankfully AARC insisted on treating the whole family, otherwise I don’t think I would have had it in me to ever trust him (or myself) again. We got our family back (now expanded by an amazing daughter-in-law and two grandsons) and amazing friends we still see and treasure. Jordan now works for a treatment centre for young men, and interestingly his young life, though disturbing, provided him with a passion and understanding for others that is beautifully purposeful…and yes, we have even found a way to love and forgive each other. I respect him, and I feel he respects me too.

Don’t be distressed by the big commitment of the year you will commit to this program. We would all say it was the most meaningful year of our lives…the beautiful years that have followed that one year would have never happened without AARC.

“Until we graduated, I never realized how much coming into AARC was for me, not just my kids.”
Steffany H. – Graduate Parent #452

Survival, existence, chaos, fear and defeat. These five words encapsulated life prior to AARC. I felt obligated to do or provide whatever my boys asked for because I didn’t think I had a choice and I wanted to stay connected with them…even though we were so disconnected. I was ashamed of my children and sad for the parent I never thought I could be. Until we graduated, I never realized how much coming into AARC was for me, not just my kids. It definitely gave my kids a solution and an alternative way to live with their disease. It also gave me permission to live my life and be the parent I always wanted to be but didn’t know how to be because I was too ashamed to ask for help. AARC gave me hope for me. I couldn’t be more proud of where my kids are today and what they’ve accomplished. They are good men. I’m also very proud of where I am today and what I have accomplished. I don’t ever want to forget what life was like prior to AARC because I don’t ever want to lose sight of the ability to truly live, to feel peace and to be grateful for every moment of every single day. I also know I don’t ever have to go back to life prior to AARC, I have the tools to succeed…and that I will!

“It’s like my daughter had fallen into a deep dark well. Every time she came to the surface she would drag me down with her …”
Pat C. – Graduate Parent #208

Twelve years ago we were a broken family. Numerous counselling appointments eventually brought us to AARC. My daughter had been kicked out of several schools and could not be controlled or loved out of her downward spiral. It’s like my daughter had fallen into a deep dark well. Every time she came to the surface she would drag me down with her through more chaos and despair. I watched her become worse every time and I was at risk of hitting bottom with her.

We came to AARC broken and they worked with both of us. We came for her, but I quickly realized that we both needed help. They gave me my strength back and taught me how to live a normal life out of the chaos, even as my daughter continued to go back out and use drugs.

AARC taught me how to stay healthy so that when the time was right my daughter had a light at the top of the well to reach for. Without AARC, I would not have been able to be there for her. Without AARC, I doubt that she would have had the tools to climb back out of the darkness. Twelve years later she is now a junior executive peer counsellor at AARC and has a beautiful family of her own. She lives and teaches the values of living a principled life. I am very proud of what she has accomplished and credit AARC for teaching us what we needed so badly. We will always have the support of the AARC family.

“We came into AARC scared and confused, not knowing how we were going to afford to do it without losing everything, and were embraced by a community that loved and cared for us immediately…”
Randy & Laura D. – Graduate Parents #467

Life before AARC was an absolute mess for our family of 8. From the time she turned 13, our oldest daughter, Danae, began her descent – first with cutting, and then gradually with alcohol, drug abuse, and illegal activity. By the time she was 16, along with the consequences of numerous run-ins with police and school authorities, we had tried grounding her, a plethora of personal ‘consequences’, family ‘pep-talks’, as well as used various avenues of ‘support’, including doctors, and counselling for her ‘rebelling’. She had brief periods of time where we actually thought she was going to stop all of this, and get her life on track, however, it was always very short-lived, and we were back to square one. Things continued to get worse each time. Life completely revolved around her.

By the time she was 17, things were spiralling further and further out of control. She was seldom home, and when she was back, she would run away yet again. After finally getting her court ordered to detox, she left home completely to live in a shelter minutes away from our home in northern Saskatchewan. We were losing our daughter, even after years of searching for help, and researching possibilities without success, and we were absolutely desperate to find the help she needed. Nothing had worked so far, and we were afraid that she was either going to go missing, or that we would find her dead from an overdose.

We hoped that detox would shake her up, but again, after returning home to start school, and more empty promises to change, she sank even further. At this point, although we knew that she was very sick, we still didn’t recognize that Danae was in the throes of addiction, and couldn’t stop on her own. We couldn’t understand why she didn’t just stop and move on with her life, as we still believed that she had other issues and was ‘just rebelling’. We felt like we were running out of options to help her, though, and in that time, we made a desperate phone call to her addictions worker at a crucial moment, and that was when we heard about AARC, did our research, and made a life-changing decision to uproot our family and come to Calgary. It was the best decision of our lives.

AARC was one of the hardest things that we have ever done as individuals, and as a family, but it was also the very BEST thing that we have ever done for our family, and as a family. We came into AARC scared and confused, not knowing how we were going to afford to do it without losing everything, and were embraced by a community that loved and cared for us immediately, and gave us hope, first for our daughter, but for the other 7 of us as well. It wasn’t easy, but we learned how to give up our fears about all the “what ifs” that we’re crippling us, and to trust the process, one day at a time. In the end, our fears that held us back and wanted to sabotage us never came true. It was a process, but we traded our fear for hope. We walked through doors that assured us that “Miracles Happen Here”, and we were desperate for a miracle. In the end, the miracle wasn’t only that Danae’s life was restored, but it impacted us as a whole, and restored our marriage, and entire family as a whole, and individually.

AARC gave us tools that we still use every day, and we can live each day as it comes, no matter what comes along. We learned about alcoholism and drug addiction and that we no longer have to live in the shame and pain that we accepted as ‘normal’ before treatment. Without AARC, we don’t know where we would be as a family today. To say that coming to AARC was life-changing is an understatement, as we feel that it was truly life-SAVING!

Life today has its ups and downs, as is typical for anyone, but throughout the struggles of day to day life, we still can experience joy and peace through it instead of living in the chaos, fear, and shame that we used to. Our family now lives with hope, confidence, and anticipation. Today, Danae is sober and living life in recovery. She is a beautiful young woman, with goals and dreams for her future. Today, we have a wonderful relationship with our daughter, and each other, built on mutual love and respect. Today, we get to enjoy our time together, without living in fear of the future. Today, we simply get to enjoy ‘today’. We are so grateful to AARC for being here when we needed them, and hope that many other families will find the same hope that ours has. Life is good. Thank you, AARC, for giving us the gift of hope.

“Our life became a revolving door of police, crime, missing person’s reports and worry. After a Public Intoxication charge and a home robbery, we knew we were dealing with serious issues …”
Robyn and Marc J. – Graduate Parents #526

We tried many treatment centres, day programs, environmental changes and counselling sessions to try to help our daughter “get on track”, as we realized she was drinking and experimenting with drugs. Nothing made a difference to her behaviour and our life became a revolving door of police, crime, missing person’s reports and worry. After a Public Intoxication charge and a home robbery, we knew we were dealing with serious issues and approached the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre.

AARC was a big commitment, but well worth it. They were the first program to treat the whole family! AARC brought sanity, peace and joy back into our lives. Today, life is better than it has been in a very long time. We have our daughter back and have rebuilt the relationships that were so badly damaged in her using. We are forever grateful for AARC.

“When he was home, my sweet little boy had turned into a stranger. He was always angry, on edge and sullen.”
Cheryl K. – Graduate Parent #351

Life with my son when he was in high school was a nightmare. He was always missing classes, failing subjects and out all hours of the night. Weekends were even worse. But denial is a powerful thing, as I was constantly telling myself that he was just in a phase and he would grow up however, part of me knew something was wrong as the last thing I told him whenever he left the house was “stay safe”. Many nights I would lay awake listening for him to come home, breathing a sigh of relief when I heard him finally come in the door. When he was home, my sweet little boy had turned into a stranger. He was always angry, on edge and sullen. Growing up he had always been happy, open and full of laughter.

I would like to say that my husband and I found AARC and begged my son to go. But the truth is that it was his decision from the beginning. He handed us the paperwork and told us that the only way for him to go was if we, as a family, supported him. To be honest, my first reaction was that I didn’t see a need for us to go through “treatment” as we didn’t have a problem! Was I ever wrong!

Our journey through AARC was the greatest gift we could have ever received. We graduated from AARC in 2007 and my son recently celebrated 8 years of sobriety. I am so proud of him and the hard work that has brought him this far. To see him travel, own his own home, work hard and enjoy the company of a great group of friends is more than I could have imagined that first day at AARC. Today life is good! AARC is truly a remarkable program and we will be forever grateful for all it has done for my son and for our family.

“What makes AARC so effective is that it is mostly run by recovering addicts …”
Tammy & Andrew H. – Graduate Parents #529

Going through AARC was the best decision we made for both our son and family. It was a huge commitment but worth every part of it. Our son has learned how to use the tools he has been given for his recovery, and is now thriving. We believe that what makes AARC so effective is that it is mostly run by recovering addicts, those who know first-hand about this cunning, baffling and powerful disease. We are so grateful for AARC, its dedicated and caring staff and mostly grateful to have our son back. We would go back without hesitation if we were to do it all over again.”

“After AARC, life changed. I no longer felt I was to blame for my children and the way in which they chose to live …”
Yvonne S. – Graduate Parent #374

Before AARC, I felt lost and alone. I ran around blaming others while attempting to save my son from homicide or suicide. I prayed every morning that God would keep him and those around him safe. As a parent, I felt judged and at fault for who he had become. I believed that I was the worst mother and I was so ashamed of what life looked like. The AARC process was special because it separated me from my addict and my daughter who watched all of this chaos from the sidelines. We were all beaten by addiction! My family actively participated in the recovery process. I knew shortly after getting to AARC that all of our thinking was changing and our behaviours and attitudes were getting healthier. It was a painful life-changing year supported by a strong community and the 12 steps. My desperation was embraced by the care of the AARC Community.

After AARC, life changed. I no longer felt I was to blame for my children and the way in which they chose to live; they were no longer an extension of who I was as a woman. I learned through the process to listen and speak from the heart to keep things real and not pretend about the truth of what was going on around me. I found a sense of self and a community where I could go no matter what happened. A place where I would be never alone never again… NO MATTER WHAT!!

“I watched as my youngest child was destroying his life. The boy that I loved was lost to me and it tore my heart out.”
Corinne V.

Living with Marc before recovery was a nightmare. I never knew what I would be coming home to. I was always checking to see if things were missing or if I was going to get phone calls from the police or having them at my door for something else that Marc had done. I watched as my youngest child was destroying his life. The boy that I loved was lost to me and it tore my heart out. When I found AARC, I couldn’t believe that this was the only long-term treatment that was available for kids; however, I knew this was the right place. Anything short-term wasn’t going to work for Marc. Family treatment was scary but I knew that by this time I needed help too. We were in treatment for ten months and these were the most challenging and amazing months of our lives. I was challenged to change my thinking and face my issues in much the same way that Marc was.

Watching the courage that it took for Marc to face head-on the disease of addiction in his life has been a privilege and an honour. We graduated from AARC in November 2011 and in January 2012 Marc celebrated his first year of sobriety. Today, I live with two motto’s in my life: ‘Life is all about Progress NOT Perfection’ and ‘The best life lived is today, not yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s fears.’

“When we first came to AARC almost ten years ago we were broken and lifeless. Our dreams for our boy had long since turned into a living nightmare of crime and addiction.”
Camil & Rosemary M.

When we first came to AARC almost ten years ago we were broken and lifeless. Our dreams for our boy had long since turned into a living nightmare of crime and addiction. Six years later we returned to AARC with our sixteen year old daughter who was addicted to cutting and drugs. No words can describe our gratitude for AARC and all that they have done for our family. Because of this program we now have joy and serenity back in our lives and a deeper more honest relationship with each other and our kids. AARC taught us gratitude, for each day is a gift to be lived one day at a time.

“When we walked up to the doors the very first time, the words on the door “Making Miracles Happen” brought tears to our eyes.”
Tod & Marlene M.

We have so many memories of Katherine when she was growing up. In all of them what was clear is that our beautiful precious girl was sensitive, caring, energetic, meticulous, and hardworking. We had so many dreams and hopes for her future. However, as she started grade 9, she became increasingly withdrawn, reclusive, and secretive. Her friends changed and our worst fears were confirmed when we received a call from the Principal of her school telling us she had been caught with drugs and the police would be called. We hoped this would be a wake-up call for her but it was just the beginning of a rapid downward spiral into the darkest and scariest time of our lives. As she became more obsessed with using, we became more obsessed with helping her, and every area of our lives suffered as a result. We felt responsible and hopeless, and prayed for a miracle.

We heard about AARC and went for a pre-assessment. When we walked up to the doors the very first time, the words on the door “Making Miracles Happen” brought tears to our eyes. For the first time in months they were tears of hope instead of tears of fear, shame and sorrow. Still we were afraid to take her to AARC and today we shudder to think about what would have happened had we not done so. As we went through AARC we learned how the whole family is affected by the disease so we diligently started working the 12 steps of Al Anon. Today, Katherine thanks us for taking her to AARC and says it is the best thing that has ever happened to her. Seeing our girl happy and winning in life is such a gift to us which we thank AARC for. The magnificent surprise though was how joy has returned to our lives personally because of AARC and the 12 steps. We confidently face each new day knowing we can have joy, hope, and peace of mind, no matter what challenges we face. For that we are forever grateful.

“AARC was an oasis from the chaos for my family where we healed our relationships and learned strategies and life skills to help us on our journey together.”
Barb

In three years my daughter went from an occasional user of drugs and alcohol to an addicted user at age fifteen. Her focus had shifted from a life of sports and friends to a life of isolation and confrontation due to her drug use. I believed she was too active with school, sports and music lessons to indulge in idle time with bad influences. I noticed her horrible descent into chaos in grade nine. My husband and I separated because of the chaos and my older children stayed away from home, blaming me for some aspect of my daughter’s out-of-control behaviour. AARC was an oasis from the chaos for my family where we healed our relationships and learned strategies and life skills to help us on our journey together. Today we are back together and a stronger family than ever. Our daughter is drug free and back in high school with a large group of AARC graduates to support her every day. I am so grateful for my life today with my family.

“Addiction is a family disease. Before AARC, our family was in chaos. My teenage daughter’s life was spiralling out of control..”
Donna C.

Addiction is a family disease. Before AARC, our family was in chaos. My teenage daughter’s life was spiralling out of control because of her addictions and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. As a family we became confused, frustrated and fearful. After coming to AARC, I watched Carly receive the tools to achieve sobriety, and get her life back. My family was also given strategies and solutions to our chaos. I am so grateful to have my daughter back. Life is great!

“I am proud to say that I am almost 9 years sober. I have married the love of my life and have the most beautiful daughter”
Danielle M. – Graduate #251

Before I was admitted into AARC, I was a lost, lonely teenager with a severe drug and alcohol addiction. My family was torn apart and our lives were in constant turmoil. At 16 years old, I was admitted into AARC, which at the time I didn’t know, was a true blessing in disguise. I was petrified and full of denial. I was forced to look at the wreckage that my addiction had caused.

After 11 months of treatment, I left AARC with a new life and friends that loved me and supported me.

Life has had many ups and downs and it hasn’t been perfect by any means, but today I am proud to say that I am almost 9 years sober. I have married the love of my life and have the most beautiful daughter. I could never have imagined that life could be this good. AARC has given me a gift in which I will never take for granted. Thank you AARC for teaching me to live one day at a time.

“My mind is clear, I am emotionally intelligent, and my spiritual life is constantly progressing”
Ben G. – Graduate #148

As I approach my 15 year sobriety birthday, I find myself in a completely different mental, emotional, and spiritual state from my 15 year old self. My mind is clear, I am emotionally intelligent, and my spiritual life is constantly progressing. My life is better than I ever could have imagined. AARC gave me the start I needed in recovery, and I now live a rich, balanced life, full of healthy relationships.

“My drug use progressed quickly when I started using harder drugs like crystal meth and cocaine.”
Teearn D. – Graduate #517

Prior coming to Canada and signing into AARC I was a lonely, anger-driven kid who just wanted to feel accepted. I turned to alcohol at the age of 11 and dropped out of school and started smoking marijuana by the time I was 12 years old. The relationships with my family were torn as I was removed from my house and put into a refuge for adolescence when I was 14 years old. My drug use progressed quickly when I started using harder drugs like crystal meth and cocaine. I was living a lifestyle of stealing and I was dishonest to the point where I lost my family’s trust and no one wanted to be associated with me. This went on for years, until March 2013 when my parents had made the decision to send me to Canada with great hopes of signing myself into treatment.

I was in a lot of fear, I knew I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, I just didn’t know what my life would be like without them as I had been dependent for years. I was 17 years old when I signed into AARC on April 9th 2013. I came to realize that I have a disease, and that there is a way out as long as I work the solution.

Today I feel genuine happiness. I have worked hard on my relationships with my family and with good friends, and most of all I’m sober. Two years ago I couldn’t have imagined all that I have in my life today. I will forever be grateful for AARC.

“I was so scared; so scared of going back to drugs but I was also terrified of living life without them.”
Steve B. – Graduate #86

Nothing can describe the darkness I felt as a hopeless 15-year-old drug addict. I was living on the street and was stealing money to buy drugs. My entire life’s purpose was to get high. I didn’t care about anyone or anything and I only cared about taking my pain away. Finally one night, even the drugs stopped working. I had been doing drugs all day and all night and it wasn’t taking the pain away. As I walked around town, I didn’t know what to do and I found myself at my parents’ house. I rang the doorbell and for the first time truly asked for help. The next day, my dad and I were in the car on our way to Calgary to go to AARC. I was so scared; so scared of going back to drugs but I was also terrified of living life without them.

AARC was the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed my life completely. I learned to deal with my feelings, with my pain and with my shame. I returned to school, eventually making my way to university where I earned a Bachelors of History. Today, my life is amazing. I am a teacher, I am married to the most amazing woman and I have spent the last 6 years living and travelling around the world. All of that aside, today, I can say that I am at peace. I feel like a different person when I think about the hopeless kid who couldn’t go a day without getting high.

Every day, I am thankful for AARC and the staff that works there because they could see the light when all I could see was the darkness.

“I’d like to thank all of the AARC staff that saved me by showing me a different way of life.”
Chanel B. – Graduate #494

Prior to AARC, my life was headed downhill. I wasn’t doing so well in school and I was constantly getting into arguments with my family. The heavy drug/alcohol use left me feeling sick and unhealthy. Arriving at AARC was pretty stressful because I was full of denial, however once I got comfortable, I began to really learn about how to better myself as a person and how drinking and doing drugs was negatively affecting my life. I’d like to thank all of the AARC staff that saved me by showing me a different way of life. Now that I’ve graduated the program, I am 3 years sober, I’ve graduated college, I have a consistent/well-paying job, I have a great relationship with my family, etc. I am now somewhere I would have never imagined myself to be 3 years ago. Thank you.

“I could not go a day without drinking, using crystal meth and prescription pills.”
Laura Jean G. – Graduate #515

Before coming into AARC, drinking and drugging was the only solution I had to life. I was completely hopeless and never saw myself getting out of my using. I could not go a day without drinking, using crystal meth and prescription pills. During my time in AARC, I got better despite myself. I gained hope and a passion for life. I am now coming up on two years clean and sober, chaperoning clients still in AARC, and working my dream job as a snowboard instructor. I have also just finished my last high school classes. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to live my life to its fullest.

“I felt hopeless and my addiction had brought my family and I to our knees.”
Jolene S. – Graduate #516

From a young age, I had a broken family. Once I started using drugs and alcohol, things only became worse. I felt hopeless and my addiction had brought my family and I to our knees. We felt like there was no option, but luckily, there was AARC. Being at AARC was painful because I couldn’t hide in my delusion anymore. I became honest and the people around me inspired me and helped me to realize that my life could be better. I kept working and gained not only sobriety but an incredible life. I am now succeeding in school and starting a new job to fundraise for charities. My family and I never imagined that this life was possible for me. I am beyond grateful that it is mine & AARC was our journey.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Alexa P. – Graduate #535

Before I came into AARC, I was a very dark, lonely and depressed 16 year old. I was completely dependent on drugs and alcohol and couldn’t picture myself living without them. I was at least 15 pounds underweight, was consistently self-harming and I was smoking meth every day. I became hopeless and didn’t see a point to live anymore. I was extremely selfish and never content with life; I would lash out with anger on my family and spend all day every day getting high. When I first came to AARC, I was sad and bitter, I thought without drugs my life was over. Months went by and after working on my steps, I saw my life clearly and realized I wanted something better for myself. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. At first it was hard to be at AARC, but as time went by I made strong healthy relationships and started to feel comfortable with myself. I experienced gratitude for the first time and actually felt like I had a purpose. My life today is incredible. I never thought I could ever live sober and feel genuine happiness. I’m able to look in the mirror and feel okay with the person I am today. I have people in my life that support me, but won’t let me screw things up.

The relationship with my family was completely damaged before AARC and until today I had never been this close with them. AARC has given me the opportunity to receive so many beautiful gifts in recovery and for that I am forever grateful. I would not be where I am in my life today without the program and the staff at the centre. I never imagined I could be sober and have a life that is this outstanding!

” By the time I was 14, cocaine, ecstasy and crack were my drugs of choice.”
Adam H. – Graduate #211

I grew up most of my childhood where my sister and I raised ourselves. By the time I was 13, I was smoking pot on a regular basis and beginning a long battle with drugs. By the time I was 14, cocaine, ecstasy and crack were my drugs of choice. I would give anything for them and travelled to some very dark places. I was admitted to AARC at the age of 16. At this point, I had nothing left in my life and I had destroyed all the relationships I had. No one trusted me and with good cause. I was terrified and could not imagine a life sober, nor did I want one. I was pretty quiet and very reserved.

When I was at AARC, I saw real people with real smiles from those who were farther along in the program. I was a hurting young guy and I so badly wanted to have what they had. So, I decided to jump in with both feet. It was the hardest most honest thing I have ever done and I realized that the AARC staff and clients wanted the same happiness for me too. All I had to do was listen and learn and most of all, be honest. After a year and a half I was a graduate with that same real smile. AARC changed my life in so many ways and I am still amazed at how I see the skills working in my life.

Today I am a full time employee at a very respectful oil rig company making amazing money. But most of all, I have an amazing wife and two beautiful boys. The day I came to AARC was the worst and best day of my life; all wrapped up together. I would not change a thing about my past. Remembering those days helps to keep me together today along with the tools I learned at AARC and the examples of the amazing people who work there.

“After coming in to AARC, the staff were able to see through my addiction to the person that I really was …”
Amy B. – Graduate #495

When I was fourteen years old, my parents brought me to AARC, a broken mess. Before then, my life was unmanageable, and although I hated who I was and didn’t want to live, I never thought that my drug and alcohol abuse had anything to do with the problem. I was in denial and deep inside I just wanted to be happy, but didn’t see a way out or any way to stop the using. After coming in to AARC, the staff were able to see through my addiction to the person that I really was and how much I just wanted a better life. With AARC and their staff sticking by my side and working with me, I realized for the first time in my life that I wasn’t alone and there was finally a solution for me and a way to be happy. I left treatment with a new-found love for life and myself that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Though I have had my own struggles in life, AARC gave me the direction and tools to be able to persevere and do whatever I have to do to stay healthy. I know how it feels to be genuinely happy today and live through life’s amazing experiences sober, and am able to use my past to help others. I am grateful that I never have to go back to who I was before I came to AARC almost four years ago, and I will be forever grateful to them for saving my life.

“Through the program, I learned immense life skills and I learned how to deal with life on life’s terms.”
Natalie S. – Graduate #175

I attended the AARC program when I was 15 years old. I knew I had a problem with substances but I didn’t realize how much of a life problem I had. I was broken, as was my family. I had no knowledge of how to live a healthy life or have healthy relationships. Through the program, I learned immense life skills and I learned how to deal with life on life’s terms. AARC provided me a foundation to be able to be a successful member of society. I learned a lot about myself and realized how my experiences could help others. Now I am in the helping profession and have tremendous admiration and appreciation for those who work with the youth at AARC.

“My parents searched everywhere until they found AARC. My family moved from Vancouver to Calgary to save me.”
Kathrine C. – Graduate #235

Before AARC, I was in a scary, downward spiral; one in which I had no concern for the welfare of myself or my family. My parents were lost with what to do with me and how to intervene in my destruction because I made it very clear that I was not prepared to change. My parents searched everywhere until they found AARC. My family moved from Vancouver to Calgary to save me. Once I was in AARC, I found it hard to believe my life had gotten so bad as a result of my drug and alcohol addiction. I was in so much denial when I came into treatment. It took time to come to realize I didn’t want the life I had created for myself and I owe that to the love, attention and example the AARC staff gave me while there.

While in AARC, I was able to grow up and build a foundation that allowed me to go back to high school and finish my diploma. As a result of staying sober, I have been able to turn 18, graduate college and university, buy a home, and get married sober. As I am writing this, I am about to graduate and receive a professional designation (7 years in the making) – a feat I never even imagined I would have been able to do. I work within an industry that relies on integrity and I am proud to say I have that today. I am content with my life and owe it to the way of living AARC introduced me to 12 years ago. I also have relationships with my family that I am grateful for and now I am able to be a daughter, wife, and sister. I am happy with myself and would not want to trade the life and self-esteem I have today for what I left behind in 2002. AARC is not easy and at times I didn’t know if I could do it, but I do not think I could have done it without the AARC staff who had gone through the program before me.

“AARC showed me a different way. They loved me until I could love myself.”
Kerry W. – Graduate #45

I came to AARC lost and broken. I gave up friends, family, school, hopes and dreams all for alcohol and drugs. Eventually, I gave up on myself. I was scared to change and be honest. AARC showed me a different way. They loved me until I could love myself. They were honest with me until I could be honest with myself. I started to feel hope and started to find myself again. Today, I am 20 years sober, I have a successful career, I have an amazing relationship with my family, and an incredible boy that calls me Mom. I use the tools that AARC taught me all those years ago every day. I am forever grateful for AARC and the opportunity it gave me to get my life (and so much more) back.

“After years of using drugs and alcohol heavily, I dropped out of university and I experienced severe mental health problems …”
Sam T. – Graduate #530

Before treatment at AARC, I was hopeless. After years of using drugs and alcohol heavily, I dropped out of university and I experienced severe mental health problems and a complete lack of self-esteem. I signed myself into AARC and before long; I had control of my life. Now, I am progressing towards a career, and I am happier than ever.

“I wanted what I saw in the AARC staff.”
Bree T. – Graduate #497

Before AARC, my life revolved around drugs and alcohol and I wanted nothing more than to die. While in treatment at AARC, I began to get glimpses of what living a sober life could be like. I wanted what I saw in the AARC staff. I saw hope that I could live a better life if I was sober. Since I completed treatment at AARC, my life is completely different and I am so grateful for AARC and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

” I started using marijuana and drinking alcohol at the age of 9.”
Ashley Z. – Graduate

I first attended AARC in April of 2002. I was 17 years old.

My story prior to AARC is as follows: I started using marijuana and drinking alcohol at the age of 9. I grew up feeling very different from all the other kids. I was abused by my step-dad and I had hidden pain that I didn’t know how to deal with. When I found drugs, it took it all away; or so I thought. I started running away from home at the age of 13. I hated my mom for trying to ruin my life by not letting me do what I wanted and when I wanted. At the age of 15, I was an intravenous drug user of cocaine and heroin. I was living on the street, selling both my body and drugs.

At the time, I thought I had the best life. As I look back today, I was a broken little girl with no voice and I was a full blown addict. When I arrived at AARC, with the help of my mom and an AARC alumni family, I was angry, scared and I didn’t trust anyone. AARC was the seed that planted hope in me. I was surrounded by people who understood my disease and who loved me until I could learn to love myself. They were people who spoke to my disease and didn’t cushion my fall. They were honest, integral and humble. They didn’t just help me; they helped my mom and my whole family. I would like to say that I stayed clean and sober after I left treatment, however when I graduated AARC, I didn’t take the tools of the program in order for me to continue to live sober. Today, I am 4 ½ years clean. I am a mom to three beautiful children who never have to see their mom high or drunk. I don’t stay sober for my kids today, I stay sober for me. Dr. Vause told me a long time ago that my triangle needs to be God, Recovery and Me and with that everything else benefits.

My mom has her daughter back, my kids have a healthy mom and I can be an accountable, productive member of society. My life is truly amazing. I run my own business, I have a home that I pay for, Sponsees that I help, women that I can talk to and most importantly, I have self-worth, self-respect, honesty and integrity. I belong… I may have attended many places for help, but the teachings that I learned while in AARC, is what I pass on to others. AARC was my Seed to life… #222

“I choose to face life with faith, new found tools and teachings, rather than a bottle.”
Steve M. – Graduate #67

My introduction to AARC was the result of a 6 month court-order that I had chosen rather than going to juvenile detention. I believe that in itself gives a little background on me and where my drinking and drugging was taking me. At 17 years old, I was medicating daily to try and fill the empty, lonely, dark, disgusting hole, I had within me. Going to AARC opened doorways I never expected. I learned to build a new relationship with myself, with a power I choose to call God, my wife, my family, and some of my lost friends. I have more in my life today than I ever could have imagined but, most importantly, I have self-worth, self-love, forgiveness, peace, a sense of purpose, as well as real friends and not enough time in the day to enjoy it all! Life will always have its ups and downs. Today, I choose to face life with faith, new found tools and teachings, rather than a bottle.

“I was abusive to my sister, distant from my parents, and had lost all of my friendships.”
Carly W. – Graduated 2007

By the age of sixteen I was drinking or using drugs daily, and I was using alone. I thought that drugs and alcohol were my solution, but I was suicidal and had lost interest in sports, music and school. I was abusive to my sister, distant from my parents, and had lost all of my friendships. I was living a dishonest, druggie lifestyle and the only thing that mattered to me was to get high. During the winter of 2007 I knew that I couldn’t stop and decided that I needed help. My parents decided to put me in AARC. After doing the program and steps I felt free and excited about life. Today, I am succeeding in university and work, and have many wonderful relationships back. I try to live life to the fullest today and I know there is a solution. I am very grateful for the opportunity of recovery that AARC has given me.