On his Recognition Day, two years after finishing the residential program at Portage Elora, Noah delivered a heartfelt speech to his peers, their families and the Portage staff. Here is a glimpse of his testimonial.
"Sobriety will be one of the greatest gifts we will ever give ourselves!
It’s now been 15 months, since I first put down my substance of choice and began the challenging road of recovery. And while not every day has been perfect, I can also say that not every day has been bad either.
However, one thing I can state without a doubt is that my journey has been centered on a quote that I learned at Portage:
“NOTHING CHANGES, IF NOTHING CHANGES”.
I know we have all had our own obstacles and challenges to deal with. In my case, I felt as if my life was nothing short of a mess — shutting everyone out, skipping work, hanging out with the wrong peer group. I felt as if my life was on replay, every day. I was stuck in my addiction for almost two years with no apparent future life goals. I was lost. But here I am today and I feel so lucky to be here.
I remember during my first few weeks at Portage, waking up and wondering how the day might unfold. This introduced me to my first competency, “to be able to integrate socially”. Take it from someone who was a very social person before arriving at Portage - it was extremely hard for me to talk to people who were seemingly complete strangers. For me, this was a major step towards my recovery: being able to open up to new people. It wasn’t easy waking up every morning and taking ‘that’ initiative, but my goodness, did I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I did.
I respect how we all had to eventually confront our first conflict with either a resident or staff member. This was something I knew was going to eventually happen, but not something I was looking forward to. That said, “to be able to resolve conflicts” was another one of the 21 Competencies that became very important to me. In my case, having to deal with conflict was a big step along my journey. In essence, it became the first time (in a long time) that I got to test myself, while being in a sober state. This competency turned out to be one of my favorite competencies because conflict was something that I struggled with, during my addiction; so being able to resolve conflicts - not only in a timely manner - but also in a respectful manner was something very eye-opening to me. Solving conflicts showed me that it is possible to get through things even if I felt that it was not possible.
The journey of sobriety is not easy; in fact, it’s really hard, especially when you first move into the Portage Community. I remember the feelings that many of us experience on our first days and even weeks – those feelings of being unsettled, anxious, and confused. Having a trusting case worker was a key ingredient for all of us - to help us feel safe, to encourage us to take positive risks, to challenge us, to laugh with us and to help guide us. They advocate for us - even if sometimes, we feel they aren’t. They see a bigger picture and push our limits. They are key contributors to our journey.
When I think of the Portage Community - Let me rephrase that, the Portage Family - I think of the Therapeutic Community. And although it sometimes might not seem very therapeutic, I’ve come to realize that’s what therapy is. Therapy is meant to have it’s up and downs, because at the end of the day, that’s what makes us stronger. I also think of all the memories, and although some may have not been as good as others, I regret none of them and am thankful to have experienced them all.
In conclusion, I will always remember a quote from my Case worker Evan. This is something he always used to tell me: “Get Out Of Your Own Way”. You’re the only one stopping yourself from achieving greatness. Nothing changes, if nothing changes. You are more than capable of doing anything you put your mind to.
Thank you Portage for everything.
The journey continues."
- Noah, Adolescent Program, Elora, 2021
Noah’s testimony shows that, with the right tools and mindset, it is truly possible to break free from addiction. His family wanted to share a few words about their son’s experience at Portage and how it changed their life as well.
"Portage became an important part of our family, at a time when we needed it most. Through moments of uncertainty, worry, and 'dead ends', the caring staff seemed to always point us to a brighter light. While the road was not always easy, we did not waver from the tools we were taught and the advice we were offered. Through the Therapeutic Community, our son was afforded exceptional care and attention - especially with his Case Worker, Evan - this will never be forgotten. Six months is a long time to be away from home and to have our son working with such an amazing role model like Evan, made the journey much easier.
The road to recovery is difficult. There are twists, turns, and obstacles along the journey that are not easy to navigate. We continue to value the relationship we've cemented with staff, the support they continue to offer (now that our son has been home), and the ongoing work and commitment Portage is involved with on a daily basis to try and help all youth struggling with drug addiction.
Our son continues to value the friendships he's made at Portage. The Aftercare family not only supports one another, but they also challenge each other, in a positive way.
For our family, Portage was a 'game changer'. We will always be thankful to everyone we crossed paths with.
Without question, Portage helped to save our family.
"Nothing changes if nothing changes".
Thank you, Portage!
- Mark and Melissa, Noah's parents