Portage's Therapeutic Approach

External Program

Portage’s drug addiction treatment approach is based on the therapeutic community model: a participative, supportive, group-based approach to drug addiction rehabilitation.

As members of Portage’s therapeutic community, clients share their daily lives with a group of people who are experiencing similar struggles, helping each other to identify the causes of their problems, develop the social competencies that will help them face these issues, and carry out the necessary strategies to overcome them.

In a positive peer culture environment, our clients support each other’s growth. They learn from each other, from their counsellors, and most importantly, from themselves.

At Portage, respect is the basis of all interventions. Portage’s therapeutic community approach works from a wellness rather than an illness model, and seeks to empower clients with tools and confidence to give them a reason to hope again – hope that they can choose to lead their lives the way they want to, hope that they can choose to be who they really are meant to be, free from the grasp of addiction.


Upon admission, new residents are welcomed by those who have been there longer. They show them the ropes; explain the structure and how things work. Residents support and encourage each other to progress through the different phases of the program, under the supervision of a team of clinical staff members. The process focuses on the following objectives:

  • Welcome and progressive integration into the therapeutic community

  • Becoming familiar with the therapeutic tools and transferring them to everyday life

  • Understanding the causes and consequences of the person's substance abuse problems and developing strategies to prevent relapse and maintain a healthy lifestyle

  • Preparation for employment reintegration


As clients progress in their treatment program, they learn and develop a set of social competencies designed to help them better manage the challenges of everyday life, without needing drugs. Communicating effectively, being reliable, working in a team, and problem-solving are among the competencies developed at Portage.

For a full list: Portage’s competencies

Individual Case Management

Treatment planning at Portage is participatory, with the clients setting priorities along with their case manager. It is also inclusive; encouraging participation from family members and significant others (where applicable), as well as the network of service providers involved.

Each client has their own Plan of Care, which deals with the individual’s particular needs with regards to substance abuse, physical and mental health, personal development, social skills, and parenting skills (where applicable), interpersonal and family relations, and social reintegration, among others things.

Best Practices

Portage’s therapeutic community model is based on best practices in drug addiction rehabilitation therapy, including the following techniques:

  • self-help

  • milieu therapy

  • community support

  • peer role modelling

  • social learning

  • individual case management

  • remedial education

  • family support

  • access to psychiatric support

For a more extensive list: Drug addiction treatment best practices