Rehab in Canada
Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Guide

Looking through rehab centres in Canada for yourself or someone you care about? If you have already done some research, you are probably already overwhelmed by the amount of information available. Searching for a rehab centre is daunting enough without having to go through extensive data. Fortunately, this guide tells you what you need to know about alcohol and drug rehab in Canada so that you can focus on what matters.
There are a variety of rehab centres in Canada that can address your alcohol and/or drug abuse. It is important to remember that customised care during rehab is essential to overcoming addictions, and a good treatment centre will be able to create a treatment plan that matches your unique needs. Successful recovery is more likely when suitable resources and willpower come together. Even so, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone, so keep that in mind when a rehab centre claims to have one that does.

Finding Addiction Treatment in Canada

When looking for a rehab centre, you will need to know what your options are to narrow down your selection. There are different treatment settings, with the most popular including residential and outpatient.

Residential Rehab

If you have a complex and/or long-standing addiction to substances, attending a residential rehab in Canada is one of your best options. Residential treatment involves live-in care and around-the-clock treatment. These programmes can go from several weeks to several months and, in some cases, years. Some residential rehab centres in Canada are publicly funded while others are covered by insurance.
Note that only some rehab centres offer detox or medical care. While those that do not can refer you to a separate facility if need be, it is best to check with your rehab of choice to get a better idea of what your options are.
While some people are apprehensive about the level of intensity that residential rehab requires, the benefits of this type of rehab outweigh any initial concerns. What many clients like about this type of programme is that they are removed from triggers and stressors in their daily lives and given total privacy to focus on their recovery. On top of that, residential rehab programmes are especially beneficial if you:
  • Need to get away from your regular environment
  • Do not live in a stable home environment
  • Have already tried less intensive treatment methods
  • Have dual diagnosis, complex diagnosis or other specialised needs
Counseling and psychotherapy. Psychologist consulting husband and wife in trouble.

Outpatient Rehab

If you enroll in an outpatient programme, you do not have to stay at the facility where you receive services, such as a healthcare provider’s office or addiction clinic. Instead, you can live at home after attending the daily programme, which can seem like a better option if you are not prepared for residential rehab. These programmes are usually funded by the government, though some private clinics offer them as well.
Outpatient programmes can be beneficial if you have a lot of responsibilities or a busy lifestyle since you can still go about your daily life while getting treatment – as long as you are not at immediate risk of harming yourself or others. Even so, outpatient programmes are not suitable for everyone, such as those who struggle with alcohol overuse, prescription medication abuse or street drug addiction. Factors that determine whether you are an ideal candidate for an outpatient programme include:
  • The substance being abused
  • The amount consumed
  • The frequency in which it is used
Detox before starting the outpatient programme may be necessary, though this depends on the drug of choice and the amount used.

Types of Rehab Programmes

Now that you are familiar with the settings for alcohol and drug rehab in Canada, let us take a look at the types of rehab programmes that are available.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Therapy and counselling are the most common types of treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. These treatments can be delivered in various formats, including:
  • Individual
  • Couples
  • Families
  • Groups
The most common format is individual therapy, where you have one-on-one sessions with a therapist or counsellor. Group therapy is another common format, which takes place in a group setting with a counsellor and other people who share similar issues.
Individual and group therapy are typically both offered as a component of residential programmes and outpatient services in the community. Various types of counselling and therapy can be effective, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviours. Since there are so many types available, it is recommended to speak with a specialist to find the right fit.
Troubled women listening to pshychologist during support group meeting

Detox Centres

Even though detox by itself is not a type of treatment, it is a crucial starting point. Detox, also known as detoxification or withdrawal management, helps anyone who is physically dependent on alcohol or substances withdraw from them in a safe way. They can be in different settings, including hospitals, residential centres and non-residential centres.
Depending on the substance of choice, the severity of the addiction and duration of use, withdrawal symptoms can be anywhere from mild to potentially life-threatening. Mild symptoms include anxiety, poor sleep, and tremors, whilst severe symptoms can include high blood pressure, hallucinations, racing heart and seizures.
Since most of Canada’s population lives within the bigger cities of each province, that is also where you can find most detox centres and services. There are various types of detox services available in Canada, including regular detox and medical detox.
Regular Detox
Regular detox programmes can help with most alcohol and drug abuse problems, though some cases will require a higher level of medical supervision. Regular detox programmes typically last between 3 to 14 days. A three-day detox is often necessary if you are withdrawing from a street-level drug, whereas anything longer typically involves large amounts of alcohol, prescription opiates and prescribed narcotic medications.
Instead of using medication, regular detox relies on emotional support as the main method of easing the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, the assistance of people working in detox centres is an integral part of getting through the detoxification. Many detoxes without proper medical assistance end up failing because the patient returns to their substance of choice instead of facing the anxiety and pain that occurs during withdrawal.
Medical Detox
Medical detox involves slowly weaning the addict off their substance of choice or prescribing other drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms. Not to be confused with a drug maintenance programme, medical detox can be thought of as a medically-supervised method for addicts who cannot suddenly stop taking the drug due to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Most medical detox services in Canada take place in a hospital setting, though some private treatment centres in Canada are equipped with medical staff and resources for medical detox.
Once you realise that you need to stop taking the substances that you are addicted to, it is vital to undergo an assessment to determine which type of drug treatment programme is ideal for you. Medical detox is not advisable unless absolutely necessary if only for the fact that you will have to have your vitals monitored at all times to ensure your body does not literally shut down.

Specialist Rehab Programmes

Drug and alcohol addiction affects people in different ways, especially if they have co-occurring disorders like mental health issues or are of different demographics. Since addiction treatment has the greatest chance of success when it is tailored to individual needs, you may want to consider a rehab programme that specifically caters to your mental health condition or gender.

Mental illness and addiction

If you have an addiction and mental health problem, you have what is commonly called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. It is vital for both to be treated at the same time to improve the chances of a successful recovery. Not all rehab centres are trained to deal with mental health issues, so you will have to find one that is qualified to treat both.

Gender-specific rehab

Gender-specific rehab refers to substance abuse treatment programmes that are designed to treat men and women separately. Many women face unique challenges when seeking treatment and support for substance use, especially those with children or who are pregnant. Women also often have more barriers than men, such as caregiver responsibilities and trauma experiences. Conversely, men might benefit from accessing addiction treatment that addresses compulsive behaviours, sexual intimacy and experiences of trauma related to men.

Peer-Support Groups

Designed to help you maintain recovery and the positive changes you made during rehab, peer support groups are free to join and usually available in the community. Being part of these groups during treatment, and continuing to participate in them after rehab, can ease the transition and provide consistent support throughout your recovery journey.

12-step programmes

12-step organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the largest and most easily accessible peer support groups across the globe. In fact, there were almost 100,000 AA members in Canada just a decade ago. AA and NA often offer a subdivision of their meetings to cater to specific groups, such as LGBTQ+ individuals, women and young people.

Non-12-step programmes

Secular peer support groups such as Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery) and LifeRing focus on the non-spiritual aspects of recovery. Using a science-based 4-Point Program, SMART Recovery aims to help participants find and develop inner power to change their lives. As one of the most popular alternatives to 12-step groups, SMART Recovery not only helps people who are recovering from addiction, but helps them overcome co-occurring disorders such as anxiety and depression as well. Today there are almost 50 meetings spreading across Canada.
LifeRing is a secular addiction recovery pathway that uses a modern, evidence-based approach. The recovery programme has three fundamental principles: sobriety, secularity and self-empowerment. While there are face-to-face LifeRing meetings in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, they also offer online meetings and virtual support groups.
The growing number of non-12-step programmes, along with the demand for 12-step alternatives, has resulted in increased attention towards these organisations in clinical programmes and communities.

Cost of rehab in Canada

Canada is home to both public and private rehab centres, with service quality that varies significantly between the two. Note that some provinces do not have regulations governing addiction treatment, which is why it is imperative to ask the right questions before selecting a rehab programme in Canada.

Government-Subsidised Programmes

If you are a Canadian citizen and go to a public rehab centre in Canada, the government will cover some, if not all, of your treatment costs. Citizens are free to visit any public healthcare facility and access their services. However, these facilities have limited spaces, which means you will probably have to wait for quite some time for a spot to become available once you register for the service.
Access to public treatment programmes also depends on where you live in Canada, your age, social connections and other factors. Additionally, First Nations people are the only ones who can access the treatment centres funded by the federal health ministry. Apart from treating the addiction, most government-funded centres also provide services on criminal justice, child protection and vocational training.
In Canada, the government utilises a four-pillar approach to substance use problems. The comprehensive and evidence-based approach to drug policy involves prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. But despite such efforts, there are still a lot of limitations, such as:
  • The BC Ministry of Health statistics show wait times for government-subsidised rehabs can be anywhere from two weeks to six months.
  • You will need a referral from a doctor or a government-funded mental health clinic to access government-subsidised treatment, which can add weeks to the already-long waiting time.
  • Public rehab treatments are more generic and focus on standard practice rather than client-focused, and may lack treatment some people require such as detox or residential care.
  • Different states may have their own criteria for eligibility, including having a legal status in the country or residency in the state where the centre is located. Other information that may be asked include income status, debt status, addiction history and medical history.
The cost of government-funded treatments is usually per the client’s income or what they can pay (for example, if they are unemployed, on welfare, etc.). Any adult on social assistance is subsidised by $30.90 per day if they are in a rehab facility. With that said, many public facilities are designed for people on social assistance and cost between nothing and $550 per month.
Contact your local health authority to find out about the intake process for services in your region:

Private Rehab

If you choose to attend a private rehab centre, either you or your insurance provider will have to cover the hefty treatment costs. Private rehab centres in Canada provide a wide variety of services and treatments, allowing you to choose a treatment facility that can cater to your specific requirements. Other advantages of private treatment facilities include:
  • Integrated treatment from the initial detoxification and withdrawal all the way through to recovery onsite.
  • Typically do not have any waiting list, allowing you to be admitted right away.
  • Better clinical staff-to-client ratios than public facilities.
  • A doctor’s referral is not required.
Standard inpatient treatment typically costs between $10,000 to $20,000 while luxury inpatient treatment can cost $30,000 to $50,000 monthly. A counselling session with a private practice therapist costs around $50 to $200 per hour, based on qualifications and experience. Similarly, Intensive Outpatient Programmes (IOPs) cost between $2,000 to $5,000 per month. Whereas detox-only programmes can set you back around $2,000 to $3,000 per week.

Problems with rehab systems in Canada

Since most public rehab programmes in Canada are not full-time or residential, outpatient treatment is usually your best option. If you need to deal with the physical side of addiction, then you will have to go to either a detox centre or pain management clinic. The latter allows patients to both detoxify from pain relief medications (such as oxycontin) and manage their pain, though it does not address the underlying addiction.
Sadly, many drug users end up relapsing after undergoing detox if they do not start rehab immediately, and, with an estimated 40-60% relapse rate in Vancouver alone, that is something to worry about. On top of that, weakened tolerance due to detox also greatly increases the risk of fatal overdose.
Unpredictable and lengthy wait times of up to six months can result in people abandoning the idea of getting help and low rates of treatment retention. Addicts who are waiting for a spot to open up need to call in daily to try their luck. Research strongly suggests that wait lists are detrimental to addicts and treatment on demand is the best operational model.

Asia as a rehab destination

When it comes to choosing a drug and alcohol rehab centre, the deciding factor for most Canadians comes down to the cost. A luxury rehab facility may seem ideal, but the cost can prevent you from being able to access it. That is, unless you opt for rehab overseas. Thailand is one of the world’s best rehab destinations, for reasons such as:
  • High-quality healthcare
  • Reasonable prices
  • Excellent hospitality
  • Serene and beautiful surroundings
  • A wide selection of treatments for addiction and co-occurring disorders
Thanks to more affordable prices, our past clients find that they can afford to stay in rehab in Thailand for longer and make the most of their treatment. They also find recovery easier when they are removed from their normal environment and given total privacy to focus on their recovery, all while enjoying the healing setting that Thailand has to offer.
Open suitcase with a tropical island inside. Traveling
Whether you are looking at rehab centres in Canada for yourself or for your loved one, it is a good idea to include Asia in your search so that you can benefit from a comprehensive treatment programme at a cheaper cost. Now is the best time to start your recovery journey.
Contact us for a no-cost consultation and to find out more about rehab and addiction treatment options to meet your needs.
  1. Centre for Alcohol and Other Drugs (2007). Drug and alcohol treatment guidelines for residential settings. Dept. of Health.
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47.) Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs.  
  3. Baker, A., Lee, N.K. & Jenner, L. (Eds) (2004). Models of intervention and care for psychostimulant users, 2nd Edition, National Drug Strategy Monograph Series No. 51. Canberra. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. 
  4. Dye, M. H., Ducharme, L. J., Johnson, J. A., Knudsen, H. K., & Roman, P. M. (2009). Modified therapeutic communities and adherence to traditional elements. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 41(3), 275–283. 
  5. Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association. ABOUT ATCA. ATCA. 
  6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: 2018–19. Drug treatment series no. 34. Cat. no. HSE 243. Canberra: AIHW.  
  7. Ritter, A., Berends, L., Chalmers, J., Hull, P., Lancaster, K., & Gomez, M. (2014, July). New Horizons: review of alcohol and other drug treatment services. Australian Government Department of Health.  
  8. Shipway, Chris, et al. “The NSW Alcohol and Drug Residential Rehabilitation Costing Study.” The Centre for Drug and Alcohol, NSW Department of Health,
Ken Sansulak
  1. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, & Canadian Executive Council on Addictions. (2017, November). Finding Quality Addiction Care in Canada.
  2. Green, C. A. (n.d.). Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (dissertation). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from
  3. Government of British Columbia. (2020, October 6). Recovery Services & Treatment Support>.
  4. McElroy, J., & Clancy, N. (2016, September 11). Are there enough beds for drug treatment in B.C.? CBC News. 
  6. Pascoe, R. V., Rush, B., & Rotondi, N. K. (2013). Wait times for publicly funded addiction and problem gambling treatment agencies in Ontario, Canada. BMC Health Services Research, 13(1).

get independent advice

Enter your name and contact details to get started.
Leading Institutions We Abide By