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In May of 2019, I was in the darkest place I have ever been. I'd been drinking daily for 10 years, and woke up every day in withdrawal. I'd been battling depression and anxiety for over 20 years, and my drinking was making it worse. I didn't think anyone could help me anymore, I was too broken. My relationship was in shambles, I disappeared from my family for years at a time, I couldn't keep a job or any sense of stability in my life. I wasn't living anymore, I merely existed. I somehow found the strength to have that conversation with myself: either I reach out for help or end up dying that way. I'm glad I chose the former.
I made a call and was referred to Christine at House of Courage. I had spoken to other rehabs, who gave me their spiel that sounded like they were reading mechanically off an information sheet. I didn't feel like they cared about me or recognized I was at the most vulnerable point of my life. I was so deflated that I almost didn't pick up Christine's call, but I thank the universe every day that I did, over 20 months later now.
Christine was so understanding and wanted to hear my thoughts and feelings. She didn't judge me and knew exactly how I felt. You can't shock her, believe me. She asked me what was my pain, a question no one had asked me before. I felt like she had jumped into the boat I was rowing poorly all by myself, and started rowing with me.
She was very open to answer every question I had about the program, and invited me for a tour which was very helpful. I was met with nothing but kindness and warmth from Christine and Barry, who both had a true understanding of where I was coming from. House of Courage is a beautiful home in the woods with plenty of wildlife in such a peaceful setting. It feels like a home, not a facility, and as a resident you become part of the HOC family.
I decided to stay for a 60 day program, which was scary, but it was more terrifying to keep "living" the way I had been. The program is immensely effective and had me dig down to the roots of my addiction. Christine tailors the program to each resident's needs, so you will not be getting a cookie cutter program like you're a robot. She is intuitive to everyone's unique personalities and knows we all need different types of support. She knows when to have a gentle hand, and when to hold you accountable for your bullshit.
Every day I draw upon the skills and lessons I learned at HOC. The skills I learned not only help me in my recovery, but with my mental health also.
Christine and Barry are an amazing couple who have created a very unique recovery experience. They provide a safe and non-judgmental environment, where you can thoroughly recover and work on yourself.
The support workers while I was a resident were inspiring and very relatable. They had all been through the program themselves, so they knew exactly what I was going through.
Working with Diane (an incredible therapist who is part of the HOC family) instilled in me new ways of thinking. She helped me heal from past trauma and leave it in the past. Her guidance and collaboration with Christine helped tackle my issues from many angles.
There are many things to do in your spare time at HOC, including making use of the indoor pool, hot tub or sauna, and many games, crafts, and books to read. The massage chair was a personal favourite. There are outdoor activities, gym equipment and basketball, and the property is beautiful to explore. Also, Cooper, Tom and Jerry, who are Christine and Barry's dog and cats are so comforting. Cuddles from them really cheered me up on a tough day.
Many other programs plan every single minute of your day, but this program gives the appropriate amount of leeway so you don't feel herded from thing to thing all day. You are given the appropriate time to reflect, relax, and have fun, while still having the structure of workshops and activities during the day. I really enjoyed that you are expected to take 90 minutes a day for self care, and it's a habit I keep to this day.
If you or a loved one are seeking help, I could not recommend a better place to start than calling House of Courage.
To those of you questioning getting help, I know what it feels like. Maybe you think you're too far gone. Maybe you think you don't deserve help. Maybe you think it will get better on its own. I have thought every single one of those things, but I will say the best thing I've done in my 36 years of life was going to HOC. It is possible to take your lowest moment and plant a seed with it - one of hope, growth and healing. I know this because I did it, and I know you can too.
The wise words of Martin Luther King Jr. say it best: "You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step."
I am forever grateful to Christine and Barry for believing in me, and all of the HOC team - you are all very important to me, and I will never forget the compassion you gave me and the lessons I learned from each and every one of you.
Posted By: Laura
Former Resident, Calgary
House of courage truly changed my life.
Like many others here, before House of Courage, I wasn't sure what to do with where my addiction and life was at in general.
A friend recommended me to HOC and although it was intimidating to think of committing to a recovery program, I can honestly say it saved my life.
HOC is not like a normal rehab facility, it is a home. Christine and Barry are so kind, so caring and so understanding. Although they challenged me, it was all done in the best way and with the best goal; my recovery.
Not only was the time during recovery at HOC one of the best experiences of my life, but the support that comes after is also so helpful.
I cannot say enough how much HOC helped me and continues to always!
Thank you to Christine and Barry for all they offer!
Posted By: Sal
I have been fortunate enough to know Christine, Barry and their staff for 3 years. The program Christine and Barry offer is extremely well executed. The behaviour change strategies and the experiential approach to the material allows for powerful transformation to take place. Of course like any other program the resident has to be willing to put the work in. That being said I can guarantee no one will work any harder than Christine to facilitate your success as long as you decide you want to change.
The facility operates with a very comfortable, family style approach. Much love and support is shown to the residents while they create new routines and as they learn to regain respect and dignity for themselves and others. I have no hesitation in recommending the House of Courage if you are looking for yourself or your loved one. DM
Posted By: Diane
Counselling Therapist, Calgary
Due to some issues, anxiety and losses in my young adult son's life he was not in the best shape. After trying several programs and medications from a doctor we searched for something else that would help him. House of Courage offered a program where you live-in for 60 days without the regular distractions. The help, compassion, routines, group sessions and individual counselling if needed were exceptional. Having access to a swimming pool, basketball net and lovely grounds to walk in were an extra perk. Christine and Barry have an amazing, positive way of life that includes looking into yourself to solve your personal problems. They are truly invested in helping others. The home is secluded, warm and loving with a smaller number of clients at at time. Our son came home as the precious gift of a healthy, active, productive, happy person. He had the necessary skills and attitude to maintain his sobriety and have a positive lifestyle. His entire demeanor is calm and focused but still fun and creative. He learned how to function in a way that was worthwhile and successful. No words can totally convey the extreme respect and appreciation I have for Barry, Christine and House of Courage. Mother of Son Calgary
Posted By: JM
I attended House of Courage in the fall of 2019, after many years of struggling with alcohol and drug abuse this was the final straw for me. I knew if I didn't get the help I wouldn't be around for much longer or I would have done something that would have changed my life forever.
I had struggled with alcohol for many years following a traumatic incident where I was stabbed 4 times and almost died from my injuries. I had started drinking more and more alone to try and cope with my pain, but it only made it worse. Getting into more trouble and getting into other substances such as cocaine and GHB.
I had tried many treatments from hypnosis, counseling, weekly meetings, and countless others but nothing seemed to stick. After an episode of binge drinking back in October 2019 I made the decision that I need to get some serious help. With the amazing support of my fiance and my family, I made the choice to attend House of Courage for 60 days.
This has been by far one of the best decisions I had made, I have totally changed my life around. My business, my personal life, and my relationships have all flourished since then and I haven't looked back.
Not only is the program effective but the lessons and tools I have learned stick with me every day, from learning how to cope with stress and to deal with people. To learn about myself, letting go of my past, and making room for a new future. I am now over 14 months sober and I feel amazing, not only physically but mentally and emotionally.
Christine and Barry and all of the support staff are amazing people and they are the real reason for my success. The program and the house are designed for you to work through all of "your shit" so you can move on and become who you are meant to be.
If I can say anything to help anyone looking for help all I will say is do it! Allow the program to help you and be open, it will be the best decision you will ever make!
Thank you Christine and Barry for allowing me to regain control of my life! Forever grateful!
Posted By: Brady
Former Resident, Calgary
Well where do I begin?... I struggled with addiction and totally lost myself before I got inrolled at HOC. The house of courage is the best place to be to find your True self and become the best version of yourself!. The program is unbelievable me and my older brother went to HOC and we are living our best lifes healthy. All I can say is do it for yourself not anyone else! Christine and Barry are wonderful people and they put the time into every person there! And treat you like family. I was a broken person with so much guilt when I first got to HOC and it feels amazing not having the guiltiness and unhonesty. House of courage isn't just for people who struggle with addiction but those who dont have any addiction problems at all just for the tools. Bad behavior ect. Not a day goes by I dont think about this place. Never give up! :) and one more thing... the food is outstanding! And the chef is a great person. Someone I really got along with and I hope he sees the message ! Thank you for everything, christine and Barry
Posted By: Bryce Pellett
I'm Bryce. I'm 20 years old and I went to house of courage at 19 years old. I love who I have become!, Vancouver BC
I have worked closely with Ms. Christine and the House of Courage staff for the last two years as an independent contractor supplying Drug and Alcohol Testing for all new guests at intake, and should the need arise, for follow up testing. I have watched residents come and go through the program and have seen nothing but positivity and encouragement.
Ms. Christine genuinely cares about her charges and has always shown herself to be knowledgeable and sympathetic no matter the circumstances. She has no problem calling people out when they are not putting in their whole effort or if they try to deceive, which is absolutely needed in an addiction recovery situation.
Ms. Christine is also not one to recommend their program if she truly believes that it will not be a good fit, and offers support that goes well beyond the residents time at the facility.
I am proud to work with, and count the House of Courage Team as friends. I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone needing help with an addiction, and will confidently say that any individual moving ahead with House of Courage will benefit not only form the program, but the friendships and support they will gain.
Posted By: Patrick Inkster
Drug and Alcohol Intake Technician, CalgaryWSOH.ca
I am writing this testimonial for House of Courage because this place has completely changed my life. We decided to make the step of sending my husband which was terrifying as I'd be alone with our infant and toddler. So if you are reading this and in a similar position please make the jump and send your loved one. It may seem scary for the period of time at treatment but the reward of a sober life partner is so worth it. Since he has been back, things have been more than great. He has come back so happy, positive and appreciative to the simple things in life. Though the most important thing Christine taught him is self love. He is now a role model to our family and friends and his new outlook on life is catching. Christine has continued to help us as we can check in and ask her question whenever we need. I am forever so grateful for everyone who was apart of his journey. I cannot say it enough. Thank you House of Courage!
Posted By: Fallon Martin
Wife of Addict, Regina, SK
I wanted to write a note of appreciation and gratitude to the House of Courage. You saved my son's life during a time when he was lost and on a very self destructive path. The way I found you that day was by way of several small miracles that led me to talking to Christine on the phone. She listened to my plight with full understanding and thankfully, she came to the rescue. From that day on, Christine and Barry guided him (and us) through the process and did everything they could to help us all manage the ups and downs and different phases of recovery. He was received at the House of Courage with open arms by a team of people who were equipped with years of knowledge and experience. Your professionalism and kindness through his time there, helped him have a new lease on life and provided with him with coping skills and new tools to manage his anxiety and depression. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being our light through the fog and for being an Angel on this earth Mama bear. Je t'aime beaucoup beaucoup .. xoxo
Posted By: Joy
Mom of an Addict, Edmonton
I am writing this review on the 145th day of living my best life, and while I know that Christine and the team at the House of Courage would disagree with the following statement, I certainly do owe my present wellness entirely to Team House of Courage.
I am a 45 year old woman and a mother of 2 young adults.
I lived through emotional and physical trauma through much of my life, which directly impacted my ability to love myself, and as such, my self-esteem and confidence was poor for as long as I can recall.
Of course, moving through life over the years, I never much thought about the hurts and disappointments that I experienced; the truth was, it was such a part of me, that I defined myself by it and didn't even know who I was anymore, if I ever did.
For me, this meant I had poor self-worth and unintentionally engaged in self-sabotaging behaviours, including drugs (prescription etc), alcohol, vitamins, supplements, spending, and other activities in extreme.
This impacted the relationships I had with others in my life, but no more so than the relationship I had with myself.
I was afraid to express my emotions, and angry towards those who had wronged me, disappointed in a life that I didn't have the courage to live to the fullest, and setting a terrible example for my children who desperately needed a mother who was consistent, reliable, and present.
All the while, I did my best to meet the needs of others, and holding it together (barely) for everyone else but the one that mattered the most - ME.
I was filled with self-loathing and when I lost 2 close family members back to back 2 years ago, I commenced a downward spiral that ultimately had me filled with self-hatred and contemplating suicide.
I was resentful of LIFE and the shitty deck of cards I had been dealt.
As far as I was concerned, I was done with life.
And so it was over Christmas 2018 that I reached out to Christine in my darkest hour, a moment that found me searching for the smallest amount of courage I needed to pick up the phone and make that call.
And that call changed my life.
At the time, walking through the doors of the House of Courage for the first time was the hardest thing I had ever done, but it was nothing compared to the decades of existing in cloud of self-hatred, surviving only with dysfunctional coping mechanisms that were serving only to bring me closer to an early grave.
Simply put, the program not only redefined my life, but saved it.
The program exceeded my expectations in every way, shape, and form.
The essentials of optimizing self-care are all taken care of, for we cannot have a healthily mind and live our best life, if we do not first have a healthy body.
Accommodations are comfortable and clean, and I can honestly state that I had some of the best sleep of my life in the safety of the House of Courage.
My bed was comfortable, the towels were plentiful, and the common spaces well maintained.
I enjoyed the recreation facilities as a regular part of self-care - the exercise equipment, hot tub, pool and sauna contributed to my daily wellness, and I have carried on with similar self-care activities. I sparked a renewed interest in painting and the craft supplies are plentiful and of good quality.
Everyone is expected to clean up after themselves and abide by basic house rules like being respectful of others space and possessions, assisting in meal clean up and weekly house clean-up, and as these are life skills, go a long way to maintaining a functional and organized space that all can flourish in.
The food is outstanding. Barry is an outstanding chef who eagerly works with the residents to create foods that appeal to the group while still considering preferences and tastes. His stuffed pork loin was a personal favorite :). There is no shortage of food, with fresh fruit and vegetables with salad available at every meal. Residents are encouraged to partake in weekly trips by staff for the purchase of speciality items at their own expense, like chips, pop and other permitted approved comfort items that will undoubtedly make your healing more comfortable.
The Personal Support Workers are all former Residents, and as such, this defines the difference in a publicly funded government hospital-based program and the House of Courage. Having faced similar struggles and with a familiarity with the program, they provide open, honest, compassionate care from a place of life experience and love. Unlike Hospital-based programs, they are available 24/7 and as we know, pain and addiction never rest. The kindness and empathy Odessa showed me for the duration of my stay at the House of Courage was instrumental in my healing.
The program is a comprehensive 4 step program, and believe me when I say - If you want it bad enough, it is yours for the taking.
Basics such as human emotions, communication, self-care and ego are covered, and you will learn the foundations of self-esteem, self-worth and their value in a healthy relationship with oneself, and concrete, valuable techniques and tools to apply to real life situations and life outside the safety of the House of Courage.
The program delves into the depths of trauma and with the support of a Counsellor (optional), you have the ability to create a life of authenticity by your own design. Diane is a knowledgeable and professional Counsellor, who provides therapeutic, behavior-based treatment to augment the existing program and help you move forward in a consistent, goal-directed direction. She is one of the kindest, most authentic individuals you will meet and I highly recommend her services to enhance your healing.
Christine is the foundation of the House of Courage. She speaks from life experience and a place of empathy, encouraging you to get to the root cause of the pain, and offering concrete, realistic solutions to work through it. She has the natural ability to simultaneously offer guidance while fostering self-esteem. Her one and only goal is to encourage you to dig as deep as possible, get to the root of the trauma and pain, and provide you with the tools necessary to reinvent your best self. She is an outstanding individual, one who speaks from a place of honesty and courage, and the world would be a better place if she was the mother of all children.
I do not state that lightly - she has the power to light in you the match that will save your life. It's up to you if you choose to do so.
You will cry a lot at the House of Courage.
You may be wondering if the House of Courage is the right choice, leaving your family, or your dog and your job for 60 or 90 days.
You may be doubting you even NEED the House of Courage, and you may be thinking 'it's not THAT bad", and to that doubt I say this:
If you are reaching out now, it is for a reason.
If you have come across my testimonial, it is for a reason.
If you are struggling, there is hope.
And that hope has been within YOU the entire time.
Allow yourself to heal the broken pieces, and be the creator of your best self.
Find forgiveness for those that have wronged you, not for them, but for yourself so you no longer have to carry their burdens of shame on your shoulders. That gets SO heavy.
You DO deserve it.
Life can't wait any longer.
Be your best self and be the author of the best chapter of your life!
You are WORTH it!
Posted By: Andrea
Previous Resident, Edmonton