A Portage Atlantic Community Breakfast was held on October 5th in Quispamsis, New Brunswick. Over 50 people from the Kennebecasis Valley region were in attendance, including representatives from regional health providers, schools, youth groups, as well as from the RCMP, the provincial government, the local police force, and other interested parties.
Portage Atlantic Director Geordie Gould gave a presentation on the programs and services offered at the Cassidy Lake residential centre, providing a description of the processes involved in client assessments and admissions, as well as the therapeutic community approach to treatment. Following his address, Jared, a Portage Atlantic graduate, provided a testimonial of his experiences with drugs and his treatment at Portage. The audience sat in silence as the 18 year old spoke, struck by the honesty and openness with which he told his story.
Jared described his first encounters with drugs, and how they spiralled out of control to serious drug abuse, isolation, and confusion. He spoke of the pain he felt as he knowingly threw away all of his relationships for the brief satisfaction of getting a fix.
“Addiction for me, for everyone really, is a monster,” he said. “It took me somewhere in life I never wanted to go. It was dark, depressing, and horrible.”
Jared described how he rejected every person who tried to reach out and help him as he went in and out of prison, to the audience that included his former school principal, local police officers, and his mother and brother.
Jared’s turning point came when he found himself sitting in a jail cell thinking about his future and asking himself: “Is this what I’ve been reduced to?” He was finally ready to take a stand against addiction and decided to begin a rehabilitation program at Portage Atlantic.
At Cassidy Lake, Jared was immediately struck by the structure of daily life, including group meetings, cleaning routines, extracurricular activities, and so on. In time, he began to really appreciate his internal transformation, as he became more in tune with himself and learned appropriate ways to identify and express his feelings.
“In my addiction I could never identify my feelings, I would act out. After the first month or so you can feel it, right in your stomach. You know what guilt is, what shame is. You know what makes you sad, what makes you cry.”
Jared wrapped up his address by the large sense of responsibility he now feels to stay sober. “I’ll never forget what Portage did for my life, it saved me.”
The purpose of Portage Atlantic’s Community Breakfast series is to increase awareness of Portage’s programs and services among community members and stakeholders in the Atlantic region. Portage Atlantic is working to build and reinforce relationships in various regions throughout Atlantic Canada in order to increase access for youth in need.
Jared, a Portage graduate at the Portage Atlantic breakfast in Quispamsis, NB.