Recovering from addiction involves more than just achieving sobriety. Staying sober can also be a challenge, especially if the person is in an environment that may trigger a relapse.

The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in Edmonton offers the Cornerstone program, which gives women safe and sober housing to ensure their recovery and wellness. It’s open to women who have completed an addiction recovery treatment, or who have not used alcohol or illicit substances in the three months before their enrolment. Aside from safe housing, theprogram provides a holistic educational experience that develops a comprehensive set of skills to better handle life’s challenges.

At Cornerstone, participants live independently and are guided by a support group that focuses on achieving personal growth and teaching life skills. Cornerstone residents must follow house rules, such as attending mandatory meetings and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Getting Her Old Self Back

Pauline Collins was referred to Cornerstone after completing addiction treatment. During her time in the program, she believes that with the support of the staff, she was able to find herself once again.

"It made me feel valued and supported in my recovery." - Pauline Collins

“I loved the program, as I would have independence, but I was also provided with guidance,” Pauline shares. “The on-site staff support was a huge benefit to walk through any issues that would arise. Cornerstone was a safe place to grow.

“I am so glad to have my old self back!”

Since graduating from Cornerstone, Pauline has been able to fix her relationship with her family. She now plans to take some computer courses to get back into school.

Valued and Supported

For most Cornerstone participants, the desire to go back to school is strong.

Anne Cantos is currently studying dental administration and has remained sober for some time. She was a resident of Cornerstone in 2018. She credits the support aspect of the program with helping her during her recovery process.

“It was really nice to be able to check in with someone at the time,” Anne says. “My caseworker was great and very understanding. The group meetings made me realize that other residents had similar situations and experiences as me. It made me feel valued and more supported in my recovery.”

A Different Life

Former Cornerstone resident Lisa (not her real name) has been sober and clean for three years. She believes her time at Cornerstone had a positive impact on her.

“The Cornerstone program was the best thing that happened in my life,” Lisa states. “I always felt welcomed and made lots of connections. I miss it every day.”

In addition, she says she was given the tools to improve her problem-solving and time management, and to better connect with family and friends. She says that without the program, her life would be much different.

“Without Cornerstone, I think I would have relapsed. I don’t think I would have my son; I needed a long program to recover.”

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Juan Romero is the staff writer/news media relations specialist at The Salvation Army’s territorial headquarters in Toronto.

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