About Portage


Open Letter – During National Addictions Awareness Week, which took place from November 13 to 19, Portage Atlantic sent an open letters to the media and to elected officials in the region.

Investing in substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation: an incredible return on investment

As part of National Addictions Awareness Week, Portage, an accredited, non-profit organisation dedicated to reintegration of people suffering from substance abuse back into the community, is emphasising the importance of investing in drug rehabilitation programs.

The importance of the fight against substance abuse and of raising awareness about the consequences of drugs are concerns that have become so common place in our discourse that the impact is somewhat lost, and yet, nothing remains more critical.

• The average age of person’s first cannabis use in Atlantic Canada is 13.5 years old [1]
• 44% of students in grade 12 reported being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a person who had used cannabis [1]
• In 2007, approximately 40% of youth between 12 and 17 years old were accused of drug-related offences in the Atlantic region [2]

These are startling numbers that reflect a situation affecting many communities in Atlantic Canada.

What results could we see if we were to invest more into substance abuse rehabilitation services? Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs significantly more than the cost of the treatment itself.

According to several conservative estimates, for every $1 invested in addiction treatment programs, a return of between $4 and $7 occurs in reduced drug-related crime. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of twelve to one. Major savings to the individual and to society also stem from fewer interpersonal conflicts, greater workplace productivity, and fewer drug-related accidents, including overdoses and deaths [3].

It is therefore clear that investing in drug prevention and rehabilitation is vital, especially when considering that excessive substance abuse during adolescence increases the risk of developing problems that can extend into adulthood, such as addiction and chronic illnesses [4].

Portage is an accredited, non-profit organisation dedicated to reintegrating people suffering from substance abuse into the community and is one of the major rehabilitation service providers in North America. Portage has been helping people overcome their dependency problems for nearly 40 years. The Portage Atlantic centre near Sussex, New Brunswick, on the shores of Cassidy Lake, opened its doors in 1996 to respond to the growing prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among youth in Atlantic Canada. It is time that the fight against substance abuse becomes a top priority, for obvious social reasons, but also for economic ones.

The following signatories are members of the Portage Atlantic Regional Board. Portage Atlantic operates a residential drug rehabilitation centre for youth between 14 and 21 years of age near Sussex, New Brunswick.

Ron Evans, Jill Durepos, Dave Emmerson, Dave Ferguson, Peter Howlett, Russell H.T. King, Ronald Murray, Roderick Nolan, Pat Rogers, Frank Wilson


[1] Student Drug Use Survey in the Atlantic provinces, 2007
[1] Student Drug Use Survey in the Atlantic provinces, 2007
[2] Statistic Canada, 2007
[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Frequently Asked Questions http://drugabuse.gov/podat/faqs.html
[4] Cross-Canada Report on Student Alcohol and Drug use, CCSA, October 2011

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