Wellness | Mental Health, Physical Health

Fresh Start Recovery Centre

We have been recognized across Canada for our effective program delivery. Since 1992 we've been providing solutions that recover lives by housing, treating and supporting people living with addiction. Our home includes a 50-bed treatment centre that is one of the largest live-in treatment centres in Alberta.

Our Story

Why We Exist

Today he’s one of the top students in his pre-med program but three years ago John’s life was completely different. His dad is a doctor, his mother a nurse, his brother and sister are honours students and so was he. You wouldn’t expect him to be an addict, driving the getaway car for his pals who were robbing pharmacies to get Oxycodone, but there he was. He didn’t get there overnight; and he didn’t come back overnight either – both roads were long and filled with heartache. The road down was a terrifying, lonely freefall and the road back was like an ascent of Everest accompanied by many Sherpas taking many forms.

When John’s family moved to the US years ago his parents were concerned about the quality of schooling and decided to home school their three children. When they moved back to Canada, John was just going into grade 10 and while homeschooling did wonders for his academic record, his social skills … well, they were more than lacking. He felt that he didn’t really fit in anywhere and kept to himself mostly. Eventually some guys invited John to hang with them and he began to feel that he was part of something and not alone. They would smoke and drink, then blaze (smoke pot) and graduated to harder drugs eventually taking the highly addictive Oxycodone and it’s there that his life really began to take a tailspin.

While John started to use Oxy occasionally, he soon came to depend on it and developed an addiction to the drug. As John’s Oxy use increased his school attendance decreased along with his grades that quickly dropped from A’s to D’s and F’s until he dropped out of grade 11 midway through his fall semester. With dwindling resources to support their habit, John and his friends thought it would be a good idea to go directly where their drug of choice was and started robbing pharmacies. What seems to be a good idea to an addict typically is not and their brilliance soon ended with all of them being arrested and charged.

A judge looked at John’s limited criminal history and believed that John was a good person and, had it not been for the addiction that he developed, he would not have done the things that earned him his record.

Embarrassed, dejected and determined to prove to his family that he was the good person that they believed he was, John found Fresh Start Recovery Centre and began his journey on the road to long-term recovery. John enrolled in Fresh Start’s 12-week, 12-Step program, excelled, moved into our second stage program.

John’s family was also determined to understand the disease of addiction and what they could do to help their son’s recovery without enabling him. Both parents enrolled in Fresh Start’s family Healing Program and made a six hour round trip every week for five weeks to attend the two hour classes. Just before one full year into his recovery John thought he’d visit his old friends and share with them how well he was doing and perhaps inspire them. Not having a full appreciation of his vulnerability and not realizing that recovery doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone the visit ended with him giving into peer pressure and blazing with his old pals.

John immediately realized his mistake, left his friends and told his family what had happened.

Embarrassed and dejected John came to back to Fresh Start to pack his things and go to another recovery centre feeling that he had let us down. One of the Fresh Start’s “Sherpas” drove John to the other centre and during the 40 minute drive convinced him to give himself another chance with the realization that addicts are never cured of their disease but – as with other chronic illnesses like diabetes – are able to manage it and enjoy a normal, healthy life.

John ended up coming back to Fresh Start, going on to complete his program for a second time, living in Fresh Start’s supported second and third stage housing while earning his high school equivalency and then pursuing his dream of a career in Medicine.

A few short weeks ago a doctor stood in front of 120 people at one of Fresh Start’s Birthday Celebrations and presented his son with his 2 year medallion and through wavering voice and teary eyes thanked Fresh Start for being by John’s side during his long climb of recovery. He was grateful that John had achieved two years of continuous sobriety and honours standing in his pre-med program.

Who knows, someday in the future the doctor that treats you and perhaps saves your life could be the addict – in recovery – that you helped to save.

Our Impact

What We Do

Since 1992, Fresh Start Recovery Centre has been recovering lives previously devastated by the disease of addiction. In June 0f 2012 we opened a purpose built 40,000 square foot facility to house treat and support 50 men at a time and provide the essential components to support the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery in a homelike setting.

While treatment typically costs each man $10,000 – $12,000 we operate on a sliding scale where participants pay what they can afford with different funding sources typically covering 45% of the costs and community donations (individuals, foundations and corporations) accounting for the other 55%. Fresh Start WILL ALWAYS provide help to those who need it and demonstrate a willingness to do the work required to recover no matter what their financial situation may be. More than half of the men who call Fresh Start home have no home before they enter our doors. For many, we are their last chance to stop before jail, institutions or death.

MISSION | Fresh Start is recovering lives by housing, treating and supporting people affected by addictions.

VISION | Every individual, recovery for life.

PURPOSE | To help people overcome the negative impacts of addiction and to experience successful recovery for life – recovery of self, dignity, family, employment and community.


  • Dedication – to guiding and encouraging those we serve to recover their lives for the benefit of themselves, their families and their communities.
  • Accountability – being transparent, open, and responsible in our work and our relationships with the people we serve, the people who support us and the broader community.
  • Adaptability – committed to make necessary changes when these changes meet and serve the needs of those we serve and our community.
  • Trust – open and honest about our experiences with and in recovery in order to ease and inspire those who will follow in our footsteps so that they may contribute to a better self, family and community.
  • Fairness – making treatment accessible to all who need us and who are willing to do the work to achieve recovery , irrespective of their personal financial position.
  • Empathy – seeking to understand the needs of residents, families and staff and treat them with respect.

COMMUNITY | In 2008, Fresh Start began working with the Highland Park Community Association and the Thorncliffe – Greenview Community Association to develop the City of calgary’s very first Good Neighbour Agreement . After months of open dialogue, a Good Neighbour Agreement was officially signed on November 12, 2009. Click below to follow:



  • 85% of the men who call Fresh Start home and begin the 12 week, 12-step recovery program complete it
  • 48% of those who complete the program go on to celebrate their first full year of recovery in their lifelong journey


  • Charity Intelligence Canada – Top Pick Agency (now Four Star) for Prevention of Homelessness since 2007
  • Success Markets Inc. – measured Fresh Start’s Social Return on Investment (SROI) of 23:1
  • Included as 1 of 10 Canadian charities for Charity Intelligence’s the Canadian Charity Impact Fund


  • 2015 Canadian Non-Profit Employer of Choice Award winner. 1 of 10 in Canada; 1 of 2 in Alberta; the only one in Calgary
  • 2014 William H Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services in Canada
  • 2014 Peter F Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management for a consistent Record of Excellence and Innovation in Management and Service Delivery that reflects the Philosophy of Peter F Drucker, the Founding Father of  the study of modern management excellence.
  • Donner Canadian Foundation Award for the category of Prevention & Treatment of Substance Abuse
    • One of the TOP 3 Treatment Facilities in Canada every year since 2006
    • Winner (THE TOP AGENCY) in 2014, 2013 & 2010
  • 2014 United Way of Calgary & Area’s Bhayana Awards
    • Collaboration for MESH Program
    • Leadership for Family Healing Program
  • 2012 Calgary Award for Outstanding Community Advocate Agency

Our Programs

How We Do It

ASSESSMENT PHASE | 1-2 Week Period – Fresh Start’s 12-Step program is most effective when taken with a clear head. Those who come to us with a few hours or a few days of sobriety are still foggy and not thinking clearly. The Assesment Phase gives people a few extra days to start thinking more clearly to ensure that the information in the 12-Step program has a better chance of being understood, absorbed and used.

TREATMENT PHASE | This is an intensive 12 week program that has evolved and been adapted to ensure that participants get the benefit and balance of a personal wellness plan and group participation. Enhancements to the program that may be different from many other 12-step programs include but are not limited to participation in:

  • Optional personalized wellness regimen through Pure North S’Energy Foundation
  • Our Creative arts Program to help participants put more “tools in their toolbox”
  • “Be a great Dad” program for fathers in recovery offered through Families Matter
  • Mike Miles Muay Thai & Kickboxing instruction

TRANSITIONAL PLANNING PHASE| 1 – 2 Week Period during this time we help people put their strateguies to work including finding and attending 12 Step meetings, attending counselling and continuing with a spiritual development consistemnt with their beliefs and “higher power” as they understand.

  • Alumni – each person who completes his 12-step program becomes a member of Fresh Start’s Alumni Association and continues to stay involved with Fresh Start, gives back to the sobriety community and volunteers to make Calgary a better place to live.
  • Phase II – affordable, supported, shared accommodation for men away from Fresh Start’s main house that allows men to continue living in sobriety after completing their 12-Step program.
  • Phase III – affordable, supported, independent living in community to help men integrate back into society while remaining clean and sober.

FAMILY HEALING PROGRAM | After a loved one starts treatment the other family members are left to pick up the pieces and may find that leaving the anger, fear, and resentments behind is more difficult than they had imagined. There are many who continue to live in the shadow and consequences of someone else’s addiction and the family Healing Program is designed to help make sense of the insanity and support the person in recovery without being consumed by them.

Our Requests

What You Can Do

With your help Fresh Start Recovery Centre has been recognized across Canada for our effective program delivery by winning the Calgary Award for  Outstanding Community Advocate – Agency 2012, two United Way of Calgary & Area’s Bhayana Family Foundation Awards in 2014 (one for Collaboration and the other for Leadership), selected as one of the top three treatment centres in Canada by the Donner Canadian Foundation every year since 2006, won the  Donner Canadian Foundation Award for THE #1 Agency in Canada for Prevention & Treatment of Substance Abuse in 2014, 2013 & 2010, as well as William H Donner Award for Excellence in Social Service Delivery (Best Social Serving Agency) and Peter F Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management in 2014 for our consistent record of excellence and innovation in management and service delivery. As for  effective use of donor funds, Fresh Start has been named a Top Pick Agency by Charity Intelligence Canada annually since 2007 and we have recently had a Social Return on Investment study done that shows an SROI score of 23:1.

You have the power to continue to make a significant difference in one of three ways:

1. DONATE | Our biggest need right now is for safe, affordable housing to give people who have successfully completed their program a place to live and strengthen their sobriety; 60% of those who complete our program need continued support in such a safe setting to enhance their chances of long term recovery. With a shortage of suitable housing they stay and pay rent while others on our growing wait list line up to get the help in our program that could save their lives. We are currently working on a two site project to bring such housing on stream for 46 people at an estimated cost of $7 Million. Your support can bring this project on stream more quickly.

Another way that you can make a huge difference is by helping with our program and operating costs to make it possible for men to participate in Fresh Start’s 12-step program for 13 hours and 12 minutes every day for 84 days. Whether in class, meditation, eating, exercising, doing homework, doing chores, sleeping in a safe and warm bed, sharing with others or just thinking, you make each sober moment possible and help string together these moments to make milestones of recovery (one day, one week, one month, one year) possible and transform lives.  Follow the link to discover the various ways you can make a difference.

  • Donate by Credit Card


  • Create Security by Donating Securities


2. VOICE/ADVOCATE | You have the power to give a voice to those struggling with the disease of addiction, whose cries for help are a muffled, guarded whisper; those who need help but are fearful of judgement, scorn and being stigmatized.  Your voice, whether verbal, written, on social media (through liking and sharing posts and videos), shared through forwarded newsletters or bringing friends to join you at Fresh Start events can help break down the stigma. Your voice can help convert public thinking and help those suffering from addiction openly seek the help that could transform and even save their lives. Start by subscribing to our newsletter, liking us on Facebook and following us on twitter.

3. VOLUNTEER | You have a passion, a talent and an idea of how you can help make a difference for the people we serve to make Calgary a better city to live in. Please contact us so that we can explore ways to make a significant difference together.

We are grateful to you in whatever way you choose to make a difference.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Stay Connected


Wayne Steer

Fresh Start Recovery Centre


Charitable Number: 136720737RR0001

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