In 2018, Portage launched an innovative intervention program for individuals with concurrent substance use and post-traumatic stress disorders. This addition to Portage’s constantly evolving rehabilitation services offering was made possible largely through the generous financial contribution of Hydro-Québec. 

Treating Things Differently

The “Maître de sa vie” program was initially implemented at Portage’s Québec City Day Centre for adults. As a result, it was recognized as a leading practice by the Health Standards Organization (HSO), in January 2019.  Because of its impressive results, the program was subsequently made available to youth. To date, post-traumatic stress disorders were not being treated any differently than substance abuse disorders throughout the rehabilitation process. It was necessary to become the exception and not the rule, in order to better treat both.

The main objective of the program is to create a space where small groups of individuals can come together to share in a totally safe environment. Participants attend six workshops on different themes: looking back at the trauma that was experienced; identifying what triggers bad reactions; automatic thoughts; signs of relapse; developing healthy relationships; anger management. So far, eighteen youth have taken part in the program over the past six months.

Putting Residents First

As Portage strives to continuously improve the quality of its services, counselors created a survey that was circulated amongst the residents, for feedback purposes. The responses indicated great satisfaction with the help received from attending these workshops during their treatment. The serene environment within the group allowed them to learn new tools, which helps improve self-confidence and tackle different situations. Dalie, a resident of the program for francophone girls at Lac Écho, had this to say:

“The "Maître de sa vie" is a group program that gives us tools to alleviate the impact of one or more traumatic events. These tools help us manage our anxiety as well as certain feelings that may be overwhelming and certainly unsettling. After every meeting with the group, I have new tools to help me along and I’m no longer overwhelmed by thoughts of those things that sadden me the most.” 

Taking Back Control

Catherine Lavoie, an addictions counselor at the Portage Lac Écho center in the Laurentians, is in charge of this project. She explains: “Taking part in the “Maître de sa vie” program helps young people learn more about themselves and this, in turn, helps them better understand some of their reactions and prevent them. They learn to recognize their strengths and to draw on their life experiences, emphasizing their personal strength and their ability to make the right decisions.  In short, as program participants, they learn to take back control of their lives rather than carrying the burden of past experiences…”

Thanks to Hydro- Québec’s generosity and support, as well as the dedication from Portage counselors, youth struggling with post-traumatic stress disorders and substance abuse, can now tackle both issues. This advancement is a major stride in the ongoing improvement of Portage’s services in Québec.

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