R.L.’s Story

I came to Vitanova a broken man at the end of a very tiring addiction that lasted half my life. Each year got worse and worse. Drugs became more frequent by the day. A weekend habit of cocaine, alcohol, MDMA and OxyContin quickly turned to a three times a day intravenous heroin habit. I came to Vitanova thinking that my problem was just habitual. However looking back on my life now, I failed to acknowledge the many tragic events that took over my emotional well-being. The only comfort I had was on the end of a needle. An abusive marriage and divorce was the catalyst of a very selfish and drug induced lifestyle. What followed was the separation of my parents, my father attempting suicide several times, a complete disconnect from my friends and family and a self-loathing for the life I then had. An attempt on my life by my own hands on my birthday was a point where I lost all hope. That is until the day my mother offered me a chance at life again with Vitanova.

I entered Vitanova in total surrender to my drug. I knew I had to do something right then and now. The opiate withdrawals were intense beyond measure and thoughts of using just to take the pain away for that moment circled my mind. But I was in a safe environment where everyone cared. I was warmly welcomed by all the staff and clients and was made very comfortable during the first little while. With the encouragement of new friends to remain strong the sickness diminished and sleep finally came. I began working on my mind, body and soul. My mind began to clear and the program started to teach me more about my addiction and the recovery process. I began to physically heal as I introduced exercise, dieting and regular sleeping patterns in my day. I began soul searching by journaling daily and allowing myself to be vulnerable to feel my real emotions again. I reflected on daily readings and shared my story in group. I was now putting the pieces of my life together again and finding the desperate answers to the questions I have had all my life. As time passed my productivity and determination went hand in hand and soon I was seeing results that I long desired. My relationship with my family that was torn during my addiction brought us closer. My long time resentments were left in the past .I was happier.

Each week brought on new obstacles but as I continued to discover my true nature I was excited to meet each challenge. By working the program I was amazed at the self-realization that was happening before me. My emotional well-being was in a state of balance and self-control. Something I never achieved in all my life. Anxiety, stress and all the resentments that fueled my addiction began to fall away, slowly a new life taking shape. I continued to remain in the present even though at times I felt I wanted to move on. I rechecked myself and got back to the structure I laid before me living each day with gratitude and positivity. When I thought I had exhausted all avenues of self-discovery I began to take notice of all the subtle signs that the universe had bestowed upon me. I was aware of a shift beginning to happen. I began to find my true purpose that nature intended for me. For so long I was unable to see far into the future and it remained one of the things I tried to work on. Now I have great optimism and excitement for the path I have chosen. The unknown path yet travelled will be better than the path of addiction that is known to me. Today I use the past to reflect, I live in the present, and remain excited for the future. This would not have happened without the help of Vitanova, the program, its staff, its clients and ultimately myself for wanting the happy life I am deserving to have. Thank you.

L.M.’s Story

What it was like is easy to say.

Nothing was ever right. My life was a disaster. Nothing but trouble and mayhem. In and out of jail. In my addiction, there was nothing I wouldn’t do, nothing I wouldn’t say. I’d go to any extreme to get high. I didn’t care about family, friends, jobs, etc. I didn’t even care about me. Sleepless nights and days on end. Always on the run. No time for personal hygiene. No time for eating. No time for family, not caring about anything but one thing. And all the pain and misery I caused to loved ones and just to say all that I lost, sold, or traded for my addiction, for over 45 years.

Then finally one day I said that it was enough and reached out for help which brought me to Vitanova and this is where my road to recovery began. At first I kept asking myself what am I doing and why.  But as I began to clean up, being here and attending meetings in the Vitanova program, I began to understand more and more about addiction. With each day that passed I was learning that it wasn’t just drugs but it was more. It was the lifestyle that I was living, and that’s when the light came to me. To understand what it was that I had to do. And at Vitanova my program was all about change in my living a normal life without drugs and running from my problems. Rather to face them and deal with them and with the help of the counselors here I began to work on the changes I needed to make.

I began to learn about me, L. M., and who I was and what I needed to do to live. At Vitanova they gave me opportunity to achieve goals that I never thought I could, they taught me how to be responsible for me and my actions. They gave me responsibilities for which I learned how to work in my field which is the food industry, and as I was progressing in my program, I was then moved into a transition stage where I lived still in-house and my program allowed me to work outside of the house in my field and return to Vitanova after work. For months it took me to grow strong in the Vitanova transition stage; then it was finally time to move out and move on in my new life.

Following counseling I stayed in Vitanova’s aftercare program, which keeps me appreciative and strong and in aftercare I still get answers to addiction questions that need to be answered. To me aftercare is like a charge and just like a phone, if you don’t charge the battery, you don’t get calls nor make calls, and this is why I still attend meetings and stay in touch with the Vitanova program, cause I owe my serenity and appreciation and new life to the help received from Vitanova and Franca and Vitanova’s counselors.

J.K.’s Story

Before coming to Vitanova my life was a mess. I lost a lot of my worldly possessions. I lost my job. My family didn’t want anything to do with me. Nobody trusted me. I would lie, steal, cheat and manipulate people to get money to get my drug. That was not the way I was raised. Crack cocaine ruined my life and I had no idea what I was getting into. I started using at 26. It took between five and ten years of using recreationally to develop a full-blown, uncontrollable addiction. I was obsessed with this drug. Even though my whole world was falling apart, I still thought I was in control. That’s the insanity of addiction.

I could no longer be at home with my family. They couldn’t trust me to be there. I didn’t care so I went to live with other people like me where I was closer to my drug. This put me in a dangerous environment, where there was a lot of violence and backstabbing. My health was deteriorating. I lost a lot of weight. I had worked hard for many years for the family business and was able to save money in RRSP’s. This was gone, dwindling down to nothing. I was now officially broke and desperate. I would constantly call my family and friends all hours of the night, begging for money. I was arrested several times. I was in debt with dealers. I felt helpless, as though I had nowhere to go. This is just a small glimpse of the twenty years I lived while addicted. All areas of my life were a disaster. Socially, all of my old friends were gone and didn’t want anything to do with me. My family was in constant worry all of the time. Because dealers knew where my family lived, I put them in high-risk situations, forcing them to help me pay off my debts.

It came to the point where I realized I had a problem and I reached out to Vitanova. I entered the domiciliary residential program. I needed a long-term program as Vitanova suggested. They noticed patterns in me with my behavior. For example, just sitting still and paying attention was very difficult for me. I was run by shame, guilt, and anger. I was very impulsive and unable to relax. I could not focus. Vitanova was very patient with me. I slowly gave up my control, stopped fighting, and started listening. It was suggested that I just try to sit in group for as long as I could without getting up and leaving. I did, and slowly I started relaxing and paying attention. I was so disconnected from myself. At times I felt lost, I did not know that things were going to turn out the way they did. The faith that I had was slowly coming back. I was dealing with a lot of core issues from my past that lead me to addiction, and I was slowly starting to forgive myself for all of the wrongs that I had done to my family and the people that I love, and especially myself.

When I first came to Vitanova, I could not look people in the eye. My head was always down. Today, I carry myself with pride and integrity. My morals, values, and hard-work ethic are with me again. My reputation for being an honest person has been restored through this recovery process. I am a man again. There is nothing that I can’t handle today, as long as I am totally honest and open. Vitanova gave me the direction and coping skills to work through feelings and to hang on to my recovery.

Since completing the residential program, I have been in aftercare and attend meetings up to three times a week, as suggested. So far, let me tell you, my life has changed immensely! I have been working steadily for two years with over two years clean. I am not associated with anyone that uses drugs. I am reconnected with my family and my friends. I am in a beautiful relationship, and I feel truly blessed. This is all because Vitanova took a chance with me when no one else would. Thank you, Vitanova. God bless.

vitanova foundation grounds church

H.I.’s Story

My life was tough while I was using drugs and it was not going to get easier without Vitanova. I started using drugs at the age of 14 and by the time I knew it, I was abusing them at 15. I lost sight of goals and my priority was not to get high but instead not let myself get sober. Soon, everything I loved to do and everyone I care about were put on the back burner. I wasted all of my savings on drugs, but was not in a rush to get full-time employment. I don’t remember learning anything in school, because I was constantly high or absent. Most importantly, I damaged the relationship with my family members. My addiction was only getting worse, exponentially.

I was no longer addicted to a type of drug, but being high in general, no matter what I could get my hands on. This was by far the scariest point in my life. I got suspended for fifteen days for having drug related equipment in my possession. That is when I first gave Vitanova a chance and participated in the day program. It took me a few life threatening scares for me to surrender and admit that I could not fight this disease on my own. However, at first I was not completely certain of the path I wanted to take because of how immensely hopeless I felt. The amazing counselors at Vitanova how proud I should be of even stepping foot in such a place and even through my deepest struggles saw hope in my recovery.

At first it was not easy, but with Vitanova’s help and continuous support, I am now eleven months  clean today and going strong. I realized that drugs were the only thing I had in common with the people I surrounded myself with. I am currently on the honour roll, as I was before drugs took over my life. I found myself part-time work to pay for school and a car. But better than that, my family has never been so close and so strong as a team. I thank everyone at Vitanova for helping me get clean and helping my family understand and heal emotionally. Without Vitanova’s aid, none of this would be possible. I was only able to be successful in my day-to-day routines because of the skills and tools I learned in this place of miracles. The counselors and friends at Vitanova helped me reestablish my concrete moral values.

It hurts me to know that there are people out there on the streets that are dealing with the same problem as me and my brothers at Vitanova. I really wish that Vitanova had the support financially to give them a chance to save other lives as they saved mine. I feel as though I owe it to them, but  not have the funding to help. PLEASE HELP US, HELP OTHERS!

D.J.W.’s Story

Dear Franca:

It is with sincere and heartfelt gratitude that I write to you today to express my appreciation to the Vitanova Foundation and to you in particular and your entire staff for the services that you provide with devotion and without prejudice or being judgmental. It is also a blessing to know that we have an organization such as The Vitanova Foundation in our community that reaches out to meet the needs of those who suffer from various forms of addictions; alcoholism, substance abuse and/or anger management issues.

For the past year, I had been observing and monitoring my son with great concern realizing something was wrong.  I was unable to identify the problem.  Perhaps like any other parent, my thoughts surrounded the last year of my son’s University studies.  Perhaps the challenges were weighing heavy on him and my son appeared stressed and somewhat depressed with feelings of no hope for the future. Thankfully, it was one of his professors who recognized my son’s potential breakdown and gave him some immediate attention and guidance.  My son had reached rock bottom and he came to me for help.  With much sadness in his facial expression, he revealed to me the magnitude of his marijuana and alcohol abuse and that his problem wasn’t attributed to his studies at all.  At that moment, I became nauseous, scared and quite shocked. My heart became extremely heavy when my son said to me, “I need your help today.  If I don’t get help today, I will die.”  I didn’t know who to call first or who was going to help us.

I approached a close colleague of mine, who I could confide in with confidence and privacy.  It was this colleague, who knows you personally, who made a call to you and explained the situation.  Without your willingness and recommendations, I would have not known what to do or where to go.  With your direction and with no delay, I picked up my son from the detox centre and brought him directly to Vitanova.  I immediately met with a staff member briefly and left my son in Vitanova’s care.  Even though I had no idea of Vitanova’s history, treatment philosophies, available treatment programs, success rate and I hadn’t even met you, I knew in my heart that my son was in the right place.  I walked away in a state of relief as I knew at that moment that an angel was watching over us.  When I finally got to meet you, I realized that under your supervision and care with compassionate dedicated staff, you would be empowering my son with the much needed tools that he would require to reach a full recovery.

Franca, you were and still are, our guardian angel. In the past several months I have attended weekly family support sessions and can tell you that it has been the most beneficial to me in many life aspects. Vitanova is definitely a client-centered agency that is focused on restoring the individual’s potential as a valued member of a fully functioning family and a contributor to the community at large.  It is true, Vitanova in Latin means New Life.  We are very fortunate to be blessed with such a supportive, compassionate and loving-service such as Vitanova.  Vitanova is one in a million and thank you for giving us New Life.

Yours very truly,


Vitanova Exterior back

A Judge Speaks Out…






On Jun 22, 2011, at NEWMARKET, ONTARIO


THE COURT: Mr. S——-, anything you wish to say? You don’t have to.

Mr. S——-: Pretty much – say I’m sorry – probably never be seen here again.

THE COURT: You know Mr. S——-, it might not surprise you that lots of people say that to me on a regular basis but I actually have faith in you that you won’t come back. And one of the reasons I have though I’ve never met Franca (Carella), I have never spoken to Franca, I know all kinds of people who have gone through that program and I know that she helps people out who are not participating appropriately in the program and I know that she’s exceedingly successful in the program when people want to do something. And for her to come here and say she has the utmost confidence that you’re never going to come back gives me a lot of faith in you and that you’ve done a lot of fantastic work to get to the point where you are. It’s not easy.

THE COURT: You will continue to attend for such assessment and take such counseling as may be directed by the supervisor and execute a release in favour of the supervisor to confirm that you’ve gone for an assessment and counseling. And I have every faith that as soon as you tell them you’re at Vitanova and been working there that will end that, but they have to be able to supervise you and know what you’re doing.

J.S.’s Story

November 21, 2010


Vitanova. New Life. Two simple words with such a vast significance. At some point in each of our lives the mere idea of a New Life was incomprehensible. To us and the many around us it seemed as if our shovels had dug deeper than our ladders allowed and that the rock bottom on which we sat was the only thing that separated us into the black abyss of death.

And yet somehow, some way, each of us ended up walking through those now familiar doors. Some of us were skeptical, some were even disdainful but there was a moment for each of us, when we sat down in a welcoming office, in front of a big oak desk and looked up to see the most calm, kind and comforting eyes looking right back. It was in that very moment that incomprehensible became the believable. And in that very moment that the seeds of our new lives sprouted into existence. And this is why Franca Carella is mother to us all. Franca, through you, we have learned what it means to be calm in the midst of chaos, to have faith when all others doubt, and to love when a reasonable person would be filled with fear. No you are not reasonable and personally, I often think you’re crazy and I love you, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do. From the bottom of each of our hearts, thank you, Franca, for everything.

J.S. (client)

PM’s Story

October 16, 2011


My name is PM. I am 41 years old, born in Sarnia, Ontario. My background is Greek and I grew up with Greek traditions. I grew up in an abusive home with a lot of yelling and fighting between my parents. I started to use drugs at a young age and fell in love with the feeling it left me.

I didn’t have to deal my problems in life or face my parent’s divorce. Between the ages of 14-40 years old my life was a blur. The only thing on my mind was to get high. Yes I had my period that I didn’t use but that didn’t last long. When I wasn’t high I didn’t know how to live my life.. I was afraid to face the world and what I brought me. At one point in my life at 25 year old I got married and had children I thought that would solve my drug problem but it didn’t. I neglected to be a husband and father to my family. I started to treat my wife and children the way my parents brought me up. My marriage didn’t last so at 30 yrs old my addiction to drugs and alcohol took full control of my life. I started to do crime to get my fix of drugs. Of course, sooner or later I would be thrown in jail. Between the ages of 30-40 years old I was in and out of jail. I think in the last 10 years I was out on the streets no longer than 6 months. I felt suicidal and very depressed for how my life had turned out. At this point I had caused so much pain to myself and al my family including my parents, brother, and my sister not to say my children that I haven’t seen in over 10 years. How can I cause so much destruction to those whom I love. This time sitting in jail my lawyer aid to me…Peter its time to get some help! I told him many times I could do it on my own but I failed. So I considered his advice and here I am at Vitanova which they recommended me to go. The only place the court allowed me to go to was Vitanova. This place gave me a new life. I can’t explain the freedom I have after being here 5 months I have face my fears and pain that I caused others and what my parents did to me. Vitanova helped me to let go of any resentments I have and to accept the things I cannot change and gave me the courage to change the things I can. In 41 years I’ve never been free like I am today; The love this home gave me I’ve never felt in a long time. The best thing is I’ll always be a part of this home called Vitanova because what it gave me I have to give back for the rest of my life. Vitanova saved my life from death or the rest of my life in jail. I’m still paving my road and I’m still working on getting my children back in my life. I know even my worst day today is better than any other day I’ve ever had. My family is so proud of me and I’m proud of my accomplishments today. May God always bless Vitanova, the sweetest lady and Executive Director Franca Carella, all the counselors and staff and I pray Vitanova can continue to touch more lives that are suffering out there due to addictions.