What made you ask for help. Tell us about that process.

A counsellor at school told me about Portage. I was not ready to even think about a treatment at that time, but it was still in the back of my mind. One night, I realized I didn’t want to live this life of addiction. The day after, I told my parents and we called Portage. Three days later, I was officially in the residential program to begin my journey.

Share about your experience when you started the program.

I was nervous when I started the program, and the first month was very tough. But before I knew it, the program became a family – even though I wasn’t getting along with everyone there. They made me feel comfortable in a way that I was able to be open and share my story with them. I told them where my thoughts were, and I listened to their stories in return.

When I first walked in, I realized what a community is, because I did not have that before. I had a mentor to guide me around, and eventually, months later, I became that mentor to new residents. It is very empowering to be able to help people that went through what I went through just a few months before.

What did you learn about yourself and how it changed the way you saw your life.

The exploration at mealtime and the cleanups really helped to open my eyes on understanding my behaviors, and being able to further analyze my conduct.

The morning meetings were the most impactful moments in my therapy. I was able to openly admit my wrongdoings, share them with the community, use the meeting to explore why I did what I did, and then analyze it. This helped so much to prevent and even stop certain behaviors altogether.

What were the ups and downs?

I liked the excursions we went on. I remember we did a lot of activities, and we went to the gym. I was able to revive some of my passions and pastimes. It was nice to participate in activities that calmed me down, or things that I loved in life.

I started hiking again, and was of course back in the school curriculum. I had lost my interest in school when I starting using. At Portage, school is a big part of the program. It allowed me to find my love for studying again, which I didn’t think I would get back. I really appreciated that.

How did you become stronger- what did you learn?

The aftercare groups, definitely. Every Wednesday, I knew I had to go back to tell them about my week. Knowing I needed to be honest and open, and to admit my wrongdoings allowed me to live guilt free. I learned to always talk to my parents or a friend. The aftercare meetings allowed me to live guilt free and to learn to be open and honest.

How does it feel being back home – what has changed for you and your family?

Life is fantastic. It’s amazing. My family and I were pretty close before, but now we are extremely close. I tell them everything, they tell me everything.

I lost relationships with my sisters when I was using, I stopped talking to them. But now we are very close and we hang out a lot.

In my daily life too, being motivated, being happy, being able to see the good in any situation. For example, if I do bad on a test, I won’t put myself down for it. I used to be a perfectionist and it would drag me down. I know it won’t be perfect, and I am okay with that.

Portage was a great experience overall, it definitely change my life. I am never going to forget that.


- John, Adolescent program, Lac Écho, 2020

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