Can you describe the beginning of the program? How was your experience?

I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea what I signed up for! It was my first therapy: I didn't even know what a therapeutic community was. At first, I felt like I didn't belong and was reluctant to it. I was in the middle of a hard breakup and going through a lot of anger, frustration and resentment. I felt sad and ashamed to come to the realization that I needed a therapy to stop drinking, that I couldn't do it by myself.

I thought I had nothing in common with my peers and didn't understand how they could help me. My first week at Portage was awful, let's be honest. But people didn't give up on me and it turns out we had more in common than I first thought. I started to learn from their experience and that's how things started to change.


What did you learn about yourself? What was the impact on the way you see yourself or others see you?

I learned everything about myself. I learned who I was, my values, my qualities and I got back my voice and my power. I learned to communicate and to be more confident. I had lost myself and was living with a substance use disorder struggling with addiction. I was the kind of person who would never speak her mind, who didn't want to bother people and who was trying to fit in, no matter if that suited me or not. I found my true self, reconnecting with the person I was, before addiction. That was the hardest part for me. It's the community, at Portage, who saw those things in me and have helped me find it.


How did you stay sober after therapy?

My post therapy was a bit special because of Covid’s restrictions and confinement. In a way, it's been helpful having more time to spend at home with my daughter. I started running and creating workouts from home during that time. Exercising is my main tool. I attended the aftercare meetings  at Portage. I stayed in touch with some of my peers and I have two close friends I talk to when I'm struggling. I never went back to my old friends and acquaintances. I also found online support groups during the pandemic that have helped me. I've always been very involved in my therapy at Portage and they also gave me the opportunity to volunteer over there, and later work with the teenagers at the center in Saint-Malachie (in Chaudière-Appalaches). Being a strong figure of sobriety for my peers and the youth has also helped me stay disciplined and consistent with my own recovery.


What changed with your loved ones (family, friends, work, partner and so on) after therapy? What was your experience like returning home?

My relationship with my daughter is so much better since I got sober. I was an anxious and emotionally fragile parent, dealing with a new-shared custody and a breakup. I was frustrated with the whole situation and it had an impact on both our lives. Now that I've learned how to communicate and express my feelings, I feel like I'm better "tooled" to offer her the parent she deserves. We also spent a lot of time together during the pandemic and that brought us closer. I have family members who are supportive of my recovery and proud of me. I was scared to talk about therapy at work at first, but then I realized that most of the people are happy for me. I talk about it openly now. Somehow, it helps destigmatize addiction.


What are the tools you learned in therapy that you still use? You are very active, how did exercise change your life?

I have a couple of friends I can always count on when I'm struggling. I also know I could always call Portage any day. Their aftercare program is amazing and you can always count on their support. 

I exercise a lot. Boxing was my passion as a teenager and I reconnected with it after my therapy at Portage (that idea came from a peer and I didn't take it seriously back then, living a sedentary lifestyle). I'm a former amateur Canadian and world champion and sometimes it feels like I'm starting over at 40 where I left at 20. I guess that's what sobriety is! The main goal is to stay active and live a healthy life. It's also what makes me happy and keeps me busy. What I love about boxing is that no matter if you do it for fun or to compete, it's a great tool to release stress, anger, frustration and negative feelings. It's a great way to cope with addiction.


Would you recommend Portage to someone who lives with a substance use disorder?

I certainly would. From the admission, to therapy itself and to the aftercare programs, I've always felt welcomed and supported at Portage. The counsellors and staff are doing an amazing work out there. I'll always be grateful for the Portage experience, it changed my life.

Crys, Adults Program, Quebec Day Centre, 2019

One Response to “Crys’s Testimonial, Québec City Day Centre, 2019”

  1. Lily-Rygh Glen

    This is so inspiring and lovely! Thank you for being vulnerable about the tough parts and transparent about the whole process. I’m beyond proud of you!


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