New Brunswick

Portage Atlantic marks 20 years helping youth with substance abuse

Portage Atlantic will mark a milestone with an event this Sunday. The residential treatment facility has been helping youth overcome substance abuse issues for 20 years.

Portage Atlantic celebrates milestone by recognizing youth who've just completed rehabilitation

Portage Atlantic will celebrate a two-decade milestone on Sunday. The residential treatment facility has been helping youth overcome substance abuse for 20 years.

"We'll be celebrating this Sunday the nearly 2,000 youth since 1996 who've graduated and come to Portage Atlantic with the goal of turning their lives around," said Carol Tracey, director of development of Portage Atlantic. 

Portage Atlantic, near Norton, will host over 300 guests as they celebrate their two decade anniversary. (Portage Atlantic)
To celebrate Portage Atlantic will be hosting upward of 350 guests. There will be 28 young people recognized who have either been out of the program and clean for a year, or graduate this year. 

"The theme of the event is looking back with gratitude and looking forward with hope," said Tracey.

To look back, they'll be bringing in former graduates to speak at the event. There will be people from the very first graduating class there.

"I think this Sunday is going to be really emotional," said Tracey.

"I think it's going to be pretty inspiring for the youth who are graduating this year to hear from these graduates from a long time ago."

Started by Lions Clubs

Portage Atlantic started as a group of Lions Clubs. The groups got together and found there was a need for a long-term facility for youth struggling for substance abuse. Youth were going out of province for help, which was expensive.  

That became Portage Atlantic in 1996. They opened at Cassidy Lake, just outside Sussex. It was chosen because it was central to Saint John, Moncton, and Fredericton. 

"Just the site itself is therapeutic," said Tracey. 

"It's away from possibly bad influences youth might have when they step out of the buildings at the centre."


Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.

With files from Information Morning Saint John