Therapeutic Community Approach

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

As members of our 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.

In all our programs, respect is the basis of all interventions. Our 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.


New residents are welcomed by those currently in treatment, who help them understand how the program works. Under the supervision of a team of clinical staff members, residents support and encourage each other through the program, helping each other to acquire the necessary competencies and knowledge to move through the phases and eventually become role models to new residents. The process focuses on the following objectives:

  • Being evaluated and introduced to the principles of the therapeutic community

  • Integrating into the community and experimenting with the therapeutic tools

  • Becoming an active member in the community by applying the tools

  • Becoming an active member with responsibility within the community

  • Becoming a role model for newer members in the community

  • Preparing for transition back to home community

  • Transitioning back to home community and managing associated challenges


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 in our programs.

For a full list: Portage’s competencies


Because drug abuse is often intertwined with unhealthy relationships and poor self-image, our treatment programs are gender-specific, with two distinct communities – one for men and the other for women. Without the pressure of being around members of the opposite sex, clients are better able to identify the root causes of their drug problems and work through them.

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