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  • Writer's picture21Renew Expert

Vanessa's Story

My experience at 21Renew was the complete opposite of the rehab I had been to before. It almost felt like a holiday, and yet the staff are incredibly professional and took the reason I was there very seriously. A program tailored to people in business, was exactly what I needed.” Vanessa, 21Renew Client, November 2018

Vanessa, 38 from Australia, participated in the 21Renew retreat in 2018. She took the time to talk to us a few months after leaving to tell us some more about her experience before, during and after…

Vanessa, what was life like before coming to 21Renew?

V: I gradually became addicted to drugs as I was struggling to cope with some problems in life. It got really bad when I felt I just wasn’t getting a break at work. I felt stuck and turned to substances to help me get through. Life continued to get worse- I was depressed and found myself isolating more and more.

I felt like I was living a double life, because although I was abusing drugs, I had a great career and managed to function at work. Looking back though, I wasn’t really performing well and it was a miracle I managed to keep my job for as long as I did.

I struggled to maintain relationships and friendships. I had friends, but really they were people who were just there for when I needed them. There were no real connections, and I didn’t want there to be. I became increasingly comfortable in my own misery.

What methods have you previously tried to control your drug use?

V: Two years ago I did a 60 day program at a traditional rehab in Australia. I didn’t enjoy the way I as treated there- no phones, no contact and no freedom. I managed to stay clean for 10 months following that program, but I remember the time well as being incredibly hard. I felt like I was white knuckling those 10 months, and had little peace or happiness. I also had no follow up support and felt very much like I was on my own. Inevitably it got too much and I picked up again.

Why did you make the decision to join the 21Renew Retreat?

V: I took a couple of weeks off work to try and get clean on my own. As soon as I got back to work, all the same problems were there, and I started using again. I was caught in a cycle and I couldn’t see a way out. I realized I needed help.

When I spoke to Graeme at 21Renew, I had no hope at all. I don’t even remember much of what he said to me, but I know he made me feel very comfortable and safe. I didn’t feel judged, and for the first time in a really long time, I felt understood.

The program itself appealed to me because it was designed for executives, so I knew I would be with people struggling with similar lifestyles. Plus, the fact I could take my laptop, meant I could stay connected to work and manage to keep my job going while still taking the time to focus on myself.

What was your experience at 21Renew like?

V: I didn’t realise how messy my life had become until I started getting clean at 21Renew. Amazingly, unlike all my previous efforts, I found it really easy to get clean there. The withdrawal period and the anxiety I’d felt before, were eased. I felt really comfortable and immediately at peace.

I particularly took a lot from some exercises we did around building mental toughness, overcoming fear and flipping my negative attitude. The exposure to a group of people just like me- the staff as well as the other clients- made me feel like I was really heard, for the first time in a really long time. The team there lifted my spirits during what I thought would be a tough time.

The amount of exercise I was able to do, including yoga and boxing, were an enormous benefit. Plus, the food was outstanding! I am a firm believer in how much better the mind functions when we look after it with exercise and nutrition. I really felt that 21Renew understood that and made it a core component of the program.

I used to feel really intimidated by men at the gym, but I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable at the retreat. The team put me at ease and helped me to build my confidence to just be me and realise that I am ok.

As a group we did the flying fox and white-water rafting, which I found terrifying but loved at the same time. It was funny how these activities actually allowed me to put into practice some of the mental exercises we learned in group therapy, and those experiences made me feel like I wasn’t in rehab. I definitely overcame some fears in my 21 days!

The content of the program is spot on. Some of it is common sense, but we forget it when we’re an addict. They delivered it in a way that really resonated with me and was practical enough for me to put into action in my life. They are especially understanding of people who are in business, and the daily challenges we face that are different from some other addicts.

My experience at 21Renew was the complete opposite of the rehab I had been to before. It almost felt like a holiday, and yet the staff are incredibly professional and took the reason I was there very seriously. A program tailored to people in business, was exactly what I needed.

How has life been since you left? 

V: In a weird way, I am still waiting for it to get hard. I can’t believe the whole experience during and since has been so easy. I’ve had no craving or desire to use drugs at all.

Today, I am so much happier and my confidence continues to grow by the day. I still have the same issues in life, but I am able to use the tools I learned at 21Renew effectively to cope. I take everything much more in my stride – no unnecessary anxiety- and I am able to be more assertive at work and stand up for myself when I should.

I continue to run every day- a habit I developed at the retreat, because they trusted me to go out and do that. I’ve also recently had the confidence to go and try something new- a dance class, which I never would have done before. And I loved it!

I credit a lot of how I feel about being in recovery now to the extra aftercare support I receive from the team. I have had struggles at work, but being able to talk to Graeme on a weekly basis, and the messages I receive from Justin, have really helped me to get through them the right way. I feel really supported with the amount of time and interest they have shown in me since I have left.

I am making sensible choices at work and in relationships- that’s something new for me! I’ve realized my happiness is the most important thing and I am no longer motivated by greed and external things.

My life now is the total opposite of the isolated, disconnected woman who walked into 21Renew. I relate to people now, I am finding joy in new hobbies and I feel connected to life again. I have made the effort to find a strong network of women in recovery to support me- something that was available to me before, but I had no interest in. 21Renew has made me really want this new life and now I take the advice they gave to me and use it, because I trust they know what is best for me.

Being vulnerable enough to ask for help, and sign up to 21Renew is possibly the best decision I’ve made in my life.

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