Reintegrating back into mainstream society after residential therapy is one of the most challenging parts of the recovery process, as new values, behaviours, and attitudes are put to the test. To help the youth who have completed the addiction rehabilitation program at Portage Elora to manage the stress of this phase, Portage Ontario has been expanding its Aftercare Program.
With the generous continuing support for the program from AstraZenica, graduates in the Toronto, Guelph, and London areas have access to bi-weekly aftercare support groups with a Portage staff member. Graduates get together to discuss how they are doing and to work through any issues that have come up, using the tools and techniques that they learned while in residential treatment. They also plan healthy group activities and outings together, such as hiking, bowling, drama therapy, and they sometimes coordinate to have motivational speakers come to the group sessions as well. The group activities are then followed by peer-led discussions between the youth, with Aftercare Counsellors there to facilitate. The youth feel a sense of pride in taking responsibility for brainstorming ideas of activities to do as a group and for leading the support groups, just as they learned to do in residential treatment.
For Charlie, who recently completed a second residential term at Portage Elora following a brief relapse, the Aftercare groups have been an extremely valuable. He never misses a meeting.
“I connect with people in my Aftercare Group,” he says. “It’s nice to spend time with people who are doing really well. It’s a big motivator and it’s cool to be with people who want the same thing as you.”
On top of the group meetings, Charlie says the regular phone calls from Portage’s Aftercare Counsellors helped him a lot as well.
In the near future, Charlie plans to complete his last year of high school, which he was able to catch up on while in treatment at the on-site school at Portage. He eventually plans on applying to University and would like to pursue a career in medicine.
“I’m really proud of who I’ve become,” he says. “It’s a huge contrast of who I used to be.”
For those graduates who do not live in the Toronto, Guelph, and London regions, Portage’s Aftercare Counsellors keep regular contact with them via telephone or Skype. Portage hopes to soon be able to introduce in-person aftercare group meetings in Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and Ottawa.