Emily's testimonial from Portage Ontario


I sat in the waiting room looking at the walls and at the buzz of activity around me. The big sign on the wall read “Portage Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Centre”. Beside it, was a catchy poster titled RE AWAKEN your dreams. A young guy sat at the far end with two people who I assumed were his parents. A staff member walked over to them with some forms in her hands and sat down to talk to them. The mother smiled nervously.

I looked at my phone. There were two text messages from my mom. Then I saw the same staff person walk towards me and come sit opposite me. “Are you ready?” she asked. I replied yes. She placed a file with a huge stack of forms inside in front of me. “Well, let’s get you started then. Call me when you are done,” she said. She patted my hand, smiled, and walked away.

I took out the forms and began filling them in. One required my driver’s license details so I rummaged through my tote to fish it out. It was hard to believe I was going to be 21 in a few days.

Growing up, I had always been super shy. I remember being bullied in school. I felt anxious around people. Making friends was difficult. I was put on medication. The medication made me react to situations which made me more of an outcast. I remember high school being where I was finally able to make some friends. That’s where I learned about drugs. And then they took over my life. For a long time, that was all that mattered. My parents loved me, but were unable to cope with my drug addiction and all that came with it. Their marriage broke down. I grew farther apart from my younger sibling. I ran away from home. Finding myself homeless, I asked myself if this was what I wanted my life to be. That’s when I found Portage.

Portage helped turned my life around. At Portage, I learned how to love myself. At Portage, I learned to communicate with my parents. I learned to empathise and to take responsibility for my actions. It was at Portage that I was able to complete my credits and get a High School Diploma. I joined college soon after.

Now, I have a relationship with my parents. My brother and I share a close bond which I will never let anything happen to. EVER. I rent my own apartment. I have my own car. I have a boyfriend (ahem). What else can a 21 year old girl want? Life is pretty good.

All this time, as my mind wondered, I managed to fill out the forms. The staff person who had handed me the file came over. I closed the file, glancing at the label which read “Emily M., Staff – Hire” and handed it back to her. She had been my counsellor when I had come to Portage as a client; now she was a colleague.

I went over to the young boy and his parents on the other side of the room to introduce myself.