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Top Canadian Drug Rehab

How To Find Outpatient Addiction Treatment is a free online directory listing of alcohol and drug rehab programs and other addiction-related services located in Canada.

Canadian Outpatient Drug & Alcohol Addiction Programs

Medical services associated with problematic alcohol and drug use are arranged geographically by city, province or territory:

You also have the option of locating alcohol and drug services arranged by the following four program types:

What are Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs?

Outpatient treatment is a counselling service offered once or twice a week with, typically, one to three hours per session. The number of sessions may vary depending on progress of client. Outpatient treatment can be provided on a one-on-one or group basis.

Government outpatient clinics are typically provided in community-based clinics at minimal or no cost to the client. Most clinics are funded by provincial health authorities.

When locating programs for adolescents, remember that the age of majority (18 or 19 years of age) varies from province to province. Also, some adolescent programs accept young adults up to the age of 25 years. To ensure you or a family member qualifies for an adolescent drug rehab program, contact the service provider directly.

Other terms for outpatient counselling include therapy, counselling, aftercare (or continuing care), group, individual and one-on-one.

Descriptors for Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Rehab Programs (arranged alphabetically):

  • Drop-In (1)
  • Dual Diagnosis (2)
  • Faith-based
  • Group
  • Individual
  • Intensive Outpatient (3)
  • Outreach
  1. (1)   Drop-in denotes programs where no appointment is necessary
  2. (2)   a co-occurring addiction with mental illness
  3. (3)   Intensive outpatient treatment is a type of outpatient treatment that is offered several hours per day, several days (or nights) per week for several weeks. The client returns home every day after treatment. Clients who require more than one or two sessions a week but cannot (or refuse to) attend residential drug rehab may find this an acceptable alternative. Other terms for intensive non-residential treatment are IOP (Intensive Outpatient) intensive non-residential treatment, day treatment, and day/evening/weekend (DEW) treatment.

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How do I Select the Right Private Practice Therapist?

An alternative to government outpatient clinics are a variety of private practice therapists ranging from professional (certificate or diploma level) counsellors, to master\B4s level therapists to doctorate level psychologists. Scott Harrison at Sunwood Counselling has an excellent article on Choosing a Counsellor as does Psychology Today

  Psychologist Psychiatrist Medical Doctor Counsellor Social Worker
Psychological Assessment X X      
Prescribe Medications   X X    
Addiction Therapy(4) X X(1)   X X(3)
Mental Health Therapy(4) X X(1)   X(2) X(3)
Case Management         X
Diploma       X  
Master's Degree       X X
Doctoral Degree       X X
  1. (1)  Psychiatrists generally have less contact time w/ clients and use medications as the main method of treatment.
  2. (2)  To provide mental health therapy a therapist should have a master\B4s degree specializing in psychology.
  3. (3)  To provide therapy social workers should have a master\B4s degree (MSW) or additional counselling training.
  4. (4)  For the purpose of this chart, "therapy" is defined as any form of treatment for psychosocial or emotional difficulties, behavioural maladaptations and/or problems that are assumed to be of an emotional nature.

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1. Find a Licensed or Certified Provider

The term "counsellor" or "therapist" is not a regulated term so anyone can advertise themselves as being a counsellor regardless of training or experience (unlike the term "doctor" or "nurse"). As a result, if you are looking for a counsellor or therapist you may want to consider one that is certified.

Certification is based on the voluntary action of an occupational or professional group to institute a system by which it can grant recognition to those practitioners who have met some stated level of training and experience. Such individuals are granted a certificate attesting to the fact that they have met the standards of the credentialing organization and are entitled to make the public aware of their credentialed status.

Adverse publicity and other forms of peer pressure are usually sufficient to discourage a non-certified practitioner from making unwarranted claims about his or her certified status. Source: American Counseling Association

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2. Level of Education

Therapists typically register with professional associations after reaching a certain level of education and experience. The private practice therapists listed in have indicated in other directories that substance abuse is one of the disorders that they treat in their practice. suggests conducting a phone interview before booking an appointment. Many counsellors offer free 30 minute initial consultations.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the following professionals to understand their unique skill sets:

Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists often work in clinics, counseling or treatment centers, hospitals and private practices. Psychologists with a Ph.D. are fully trained in the assessment and treatment of all behavioral conditions, from anxiety and depression to anger and resentment (American Psychological Association). Psychologists use tools such as cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy, energy psychology and hypnosis to treat patients. A Ph.D. is earned in four to seven years and the required supervised practicum usually take a year.

Psychologists are not to be confused with Psychiatrists (see above) although both are qualified to provide psychological assessments. Psychiatrists generally spend shorter periods of contact time with clients/patients, and the principle method of treatment is psychopharmacology (medication).

Conversely, clinical and counselling psychologists generally rely more upon psychological assessment and the use of psychotherapy to relieve psychological distress. It is not uncommon for people suffering from addiction and mental illness to combine the pharmacology skills of psychiatrists with the psychotherapeutic skills of a psychologist. Source:

Therapists can become registered psychologists after completion of doctoral-level (*) training, required supervised practicum and written and oral licensing examinations. Check the Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Rehab Program section in your home province for more information.

Academic Degrees or Professional Licenses (abbreviations in parentheses):

  • Doctorate Level Psychologists
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) (often work with children and adolescents)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
  • Master\B4s Level Psychologists
  • Master of Art (MA)
  • Master of Education (MEd)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Registered Psychologist (Rpsych) (*)

(*) Note: At the time of this writing, a few provinces still accept a master\B4s degree as the minimum formal education requirement.

For more information on psychogists in Canada refer to the Canadian Psychological Association website.

Currently, Counselling Therapists are not regulated in Canada so anyone, regardless of training, can call themselves a counsellor or therapist. Many provinces are considering legislation that would "mandate by law" who can or cannot call themselves a counsellor or therapist.

Several voluntary associations exist in Canada that require members to meet standards and demonstrate to the public proficiency in counselling. Members of these associations are qualified to address many clinical mental health issues through assessment, prevention, and treatment/intervention. Members must hold a relevant Master\B4s degree (counselling, clinical or educational psychology, pastoral counselling, marital and family counselling, clinical social work, psychiatric nursing, and applied behavioral sciences) from an institution acceptable to the association.

Professional Licenses (abbreviations in parentheses):

A Social worker works with an individual in the context of the wider community. They often provide services as members of a multidisciplinary team or on a one-to-one basis with the client. The duties performed by social workers vary depending on the settings in which they work. Social workers in private practice offer their services on a fee-for-service basis to individuals, families and organizations. The MSW typically requires two to four years of study (National Association of Social Workers).

  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW or Ph.D.)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Registered Clinical Social Worker (RCSW) (only in BC)
  • Registered Social Worker (RSW) (*)

(*) Note: A RSW designation is not standard across the country. Some provinces allow individuals with a 2-year diploma to be RSWs while other provinces require a bachelor degree in Social Work (BSW). Check the Outpatient Drug Rehab Program section in your home province for more information.

The Canadian Association of Social Workers has additional information as well as links to provincial organizations.

A Pastoral Counsellor is trained in both psychology and theology and thus can address psychological and spiritual issues. Consider meeting with a pastoral counselor if you are experiencing emotional difficulties and wish to address these matters in the context of religion and spirituality.

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) is the first professional degree in ministry in Canada and is typically three years in length.

Academic Degrees or Professional Licenses (abbreviations in parentheses):

  • Certified Spiritual Care Professionals (CSCP)
  • Master of Divinity (M.Div.)

For more information contact the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education

Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals with a minimum of a master's degree and two years supervised clinical experience. Marriage and family therapists (commonly referred to as MFTs or family therapists) are trained and licensed to independently diagnose and treat mental health and substance abuse problems. Marriage and family therapy is one of the core mental health disciplines and is based on the research and theory that mental illness and family problems are best treated in a family context. Trained in psychotherapy and family systems, marriage and family therapists focus on understanding their clients' symptoms and interaction patterns within their existing environment. MFTs treat predominantly individuals, but also provide couples, family and group therapy. Whomever the client, Family Therapists treat from a relationship perspective that incorporates family systems.

Therapist Locator has a directory listing marriage and family therapists in Canada that treat adolescent and adult substance abuse, alcohol problems, children of alcoholics, eating disorders, mental illness, substance abuse and sexual addiction.

Source: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)


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3. Clinical Experience with Drug and Alcohol Addiction:

Few certification boards have a separate standard to confirm the ability of a member therapist when it comes to drug and alcohol knowledge and experience. However, many associations have directories that indicate members who take clients with drug or alcohol problems. These members are listed in since they have adequate education and accept clients with addictions.

The only association that requires specific training in drug and alcohol counselling is the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation (CACCF).

Certified Addiction Counsellors have work experience in alcoholism and/or drug addiction counselling and education in 12 core functions: screening, intake, orientation, assessment, treatment planning, counselling, case management, crisis intervention, client education, referral, record keeping and consultation with other professionals.

Look for the following certifications (abbreviation in parentheses):

  • Canadian Contingent Alcohol & Drug Counsellor (CCADC)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor Non-Reciprocal (CCS)
  • International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC)
  • International Certified Clinical Supervisor (ICCS)

Note: at this time, CACCF does not publish a listing of members. Although does list some certified addiction counsellors you may need to contact CACCF directly to locate a member in your community.

To locate a CACCF member in your community call toll-free (866)624-1911 or visit the Certified Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation

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4. Cost:

Selecting the right therapist depends on your ability to pay since private practice therapists rarely receive a subsidy for their work from the provincial government (check with your extended health plan to see if your company may cover a portion or all of the cost). Typically, doctorate-level therapists charge more than master\B4s level therapists who, in turn, typically charge more than bachelors- or diploma-level therapists.

An option for individuals and families with limited resources is a Registered Professional Counsellor (RPC). RPCs are required to have completed a minimum of two years of counselling and/or psychotherapy practice under supervision and submit two letters of recommendation from counselling / psychotherapy professionals.

Note: Although CPCA does publish a list of members in their website, specialties (such as substance abuse or addiction counselling) are not listed. Individuals seeking addiction counselling are recommended to call counsellors directly to determine their level of training in addiction work.

To locate a RPC member in your community call toll-free (888)945-2722 or visit the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association

Disclaimer: Inclusion or omission of an organization or agency in this database does not imply endorsement or non-endorsement by In no event shall be liable for any decision or action taken in reliance on information provided by this referral service. Any questions regarding an alcohol and drug rehab program listing should be directed to that organization. If you believe you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or your local crisis hotline .

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