Tony Lehal had his first beer at seven years old. After finishing it, Tony became ill. The experience should have dampened Tony’s enthusiasm for alcohol. But at thirteen, and working part-time, Tony began drinking coolers with his older friends.
At first, drinking was fun. Alcohol gave Tony confidence. Sober, Tony was a shy kid. But a few drinks changed all that. In his early twenties, Tony was married and running his own business in wedding video-photography. Tony’s drinking wasn’t fun anymore, and his alcohol consumption was becoming a problem.
Concerned about Tony’s drinking, Tony’s wife reached out to his family. After much discussion, the family arranged an intervention. Not believing he had a drinking problem, Tony went to treatment anyway. Tony completed his program and then picked up drinking, where he had left off.
Tony’s family didn’t understand substance use disorders and mistakenly believed that Tony could drink socially. Tony says he would sip on his drink and convince everyone he was fine. Nobody knew that Tony had alcohol stashed under his bed, in his car, and all over the house.
The More Tony Tried to Control His Drinking, the Worse It Got
When Tony’s family saw what was happening, they confronted him. Tony returned to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Tony was in and out of the rooms of AA for the next few years. One time Tony even achieved eleven months in recovery, but Tony wasn’t happy. Although Tony attended meetings, he didn’t do the work. Tony says he was a dry drunk and felt angry and miserable most of the time.
In March of 2010, Tony’s daughter was born. Tony was thirty years old and he thought it was time to grow up. Tony white-knuckled sobriety, but it didn’t last. In 2011 Tony’s wife went back to work, and while Tony was caring for his infant daughter, he got drunk. Fed up with Tony’s drinking, his wife said she’d had enough. Feeling betrayed, Tony moved back to his parents’ house and cut off all contact with his wife and child.
In 2012 began a very dark period in Tony’s life. For eight months straight, Tony drank around the clock. Tony got DUI’s and experienced blackouts from overconsuming alcohol. Without alcohol in his system, Tony’s hands shook, and he couldn’t eat. Tony’s health was deteriorating and every awful thing that he had heard would happen to him did happen to him. He felt depressed, hopeless, and thought about ending his life.
One day, Tony’s aunt and uncle came for a visit. Tony’s aunt, a health care practitioner, observed that Tony looked sick—even his skin colour had changed! Worried that Tony would succumb to his alcohol addiction, his aunt found an exceptional treatment facility to help him get better: Edgewood, in Nanaimo BC. A week later, Tony was headed to Edgewood.
Tony’s Treatment Experience at Edgewood Allowed Him To Transform His Life
On May 25th, 2013, Tony entered Edgewood. Tony was defeated and he wondered where his life had gone. Feeling like a broken man, Tony saw a sign on the wall that read, “House of Miracles.” A spark of hope lit up inside Tony, and he vowed to fight for his life.
Tony showed up to his activities on time, according to his prescribed treatment structure. Tony was an active participant in group therapy and was open to feedback from his counsellors and peers. After completing his residential treatment program, Tony transferred to the extended care program where he stayed for another two months. Following extended care, Tony attended aftercare groups year. He also attended AA meetings, got a sponsor, and worked the steps.
Recovery brought purpose to Tony’s life. Although he was living simply, Tony was happier than he’d ever been. After celebrating one year in recovery, Tony began thinking about moving back home. Tony’s marriage was over, but he wanted to be closer to his daughter and parents.
Having worked as a videographer and photographer in the wedding industry for 25 years, Tony decided he needed a change. The idea of helping people like himself who struggled with addiction appealed to him. In December of 2014, Tony went back to school full-time and took a diploma program in Social Services as a Recovery Specialist. Graduating with honours, Tony was valedictorian for the class of 2015.
Secure in His Recovery, Tony Realized He Could Accomplish Anything to Which He Set His Mind
When Tony moved to Toronto, he visited Bellwood and left his resume. In August of 2016, Tony got a call from Bellwood to come in for an interview. Tony’s positive attitude, education, and personal experience got him the job.
Tony’s passion for helping others made him a valuable member of the EHN Canada team. Addiction treatment saved Tony’s life, and he wanted to pay it forward. Never saying “no” to shifts, Tony loved helping others, and it showed. Tony quickly moved from support staff to an admission counsellor.
Tony recognizes that one person’s addiction hurts all of that person’s family members—it fosters secrecy, mistrust, resentment, anger, and fear. Addiction hurts a family’s finances, physical health, and psychological well-being. Without effective education and support, family members often bear life-long emotional scars resulting from their loved ones’ addiction. To help family members get better, Tony strongly urges them to attend Edgewood’s family program, Insite.
Tony is living his best life and he recently celebrated another milestone: seven years in recovery. Tony has regained his family’s trust, co-parents his daughter, and has a career he loves. Tony says, “if you’re struggling—reach out!” Addiction treatment programs are highly effective and have excellent results when they are personalized, evidence-based, and are provided by caring and compassionate clinical staff in a safe and supportive environment.
We Can Help You
The trick to achieving successful long-term recovery is to stop running and face your problems. Both Tony and EHN Canada are here to help you with that.
Tony is happy to answer your questions or talk about addiction and mental health. You can call Tony at 1-778-835-9212.
EHN Canada Admissions Team
If you’d like to learn more about the addiction and mental health treatment programs provided by EHN Canada, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us at one of the numbers below. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.
- 1-800-387-6198 for Bellwood Health Services in Toronto, ON
- 1-587-350-6818 for EHN Sandstone, in Calgary, AB
- 1-800-683-0111 for Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC
- 1-888-488-2611 for Clinique Nouveau Depart in Montreal, QC