ʺ At the age of 15, I was placed under the care of the Director of Youth Protection (Direction de la protection de la jeunesse). I was keeping bad company and no longer going to school. My parents couldn’t take care of me anymore. I went to a youth centre and that’s where I heard about Portage.

Portage helped me grow. It helped me open up about issues I had with my parents and that I never would have addressed otherwise.  It completely restored my relationship with my family. 

Portage gave me tools that I use every day in my relationship with my husband, with my children or at work. They include introspection, talking about one’s feelings and empathy. I used all of the tools I learned about in therapy to get better and overcome the hardships I experienced.

During my therapy at Portage, I was very touched by the fact that some of the counsellors had been through the program themselves. It helps you feel closer to them and supported. And it helps you realize that you really can overcome your difficulties and go on to live a normal life, even if you’ve been in a drug rehabilitation program. It gives you hope. The counsellors are the best examples you could ever have. You know they’re not judging you, because they’ve been through the same thing you have.

I am grateful to Portage, to the counsellors who guided me and to the peers in my residential program.

My best friend (who is still my best friend today) was in the program with me. We are godmothers to each other’s children and, twenty years later, we are still there for each other. I developed ties with some fantastic people; ties that will not falter even with the passage of time.

Life wasn’t perfect after I finished treatment. There were good times and bad, but I learned to ask for help and, most importantly, to do so without feeling ashamed.  Thanks to the tools I acquired at Portage, I was able to get through other difficult situations that had nothing to do with my substance use. Those tools helped me become a better version of myself.

At Portage, I learned to put words on my feelings and to trust myself. It’s one of the most helpful things I learned. Even if I wasn’t ready to use all the tools and information I was given at the time, they were extremely useful when I needed them. Now, they’re so much a part of my life and of who I am that I don’t even have to think twice about them; they’re just there. My life changed for the better when I learned to use them.

Thanks to Portage, I was able to connect with my family, to communicate and to listen. One important thing to mention is that I come from a good family that has always been there for me and supported me. But, despite the support of my friends and family, I still made some bad decisions and engaged in problematic substance use. All this to say that it can happen to anyone and in any family. The important thing is to pull through. Portage is where I learned who I am and how to make my own decisions for myself, for my well-being and for my happiness.


Now, 20 years later, I am living a healthy, positive lifestyle and I am happy. I have a close family, a husband and two wonderful children who bring me joy every single day. It’s not always easy, but it is so very much worth it. I can truly say that I am lucky to have followed the Portage program. It allowed me to become the happy, fulfilled woman that I am today.

I am happy in every aspect of my life. I have supportive friends and family. I have a perfect partner who shares my values. I have a good job. I just got my university degree. I have become a resource person for friends and family. I am a good listener; people confide in me and look to me for reassurance, all of which makes me extremely happy and grateful.

I recommend Portage 100%. If you need help and are serious about getting better, Portage is the best place to go. They gave me tools that I can truly use in everyday life.

If you are a youth wondering why you should go to Portage, the answer is this: to discover who you are and to acquire tools for living. ʺ

Anne-Marie, adolescent program, Lac Écho, 2004


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