Ask yourself honestly if your use is causing problems in any area of your life such as your relationships, your health, your job, your schooling, your finances, the way you feel about yourself.

For those concerned about another person's use of mood altering substances

How can I make my partner/parent/son or daughter stop using?

You can’t. But you can begin to start a ripple affect in your family by getting help for yourself. No matter how skilled we are, it is still almost impossible to make an adult do something they are not, themselves, ready to do. All you can do is, - 1) not make it too comfortable for them to remain the same 2) keep expressing concerns in as non judgmental a way as possible 3) believe in them and provide them with resources they can access when they’re finally ready and 4) believe in yourself and get help for yourself. It is almost impossible to keep doing all this without support. You might want to try getting self help support from AlAnon or NarAnon (see links). Or you can seek professional help at an addiction treatment facility such as Rideauwood, which helps family members even if their addicted family member is not ready to get help.

Will my partner/parent/son/daughter get treatment for themselves if I go to one of these programs?

It will likely take time if your actions are to have that kind of impact on the substance abusing person. In their fear, they might even try to persuade you not to get help for yourself by threatening you, manipulating you or even promising to get help themselves. There may be no follow through on their part. Do it anyway but do it for the right reasons. Do it, not to get your loved one to get help, but do it for you. The results may pleasantly surprise you.

How soon can I get in?

Rideauwood has a program for parents of substance abusing youth, and a program for parents, partners or adult children of substance abusing adults. Access time is different for each program. In both cases there is a waiting period to become admitted which varies from week to week. While waiting, Rideauwood invites you to attend the "Family Spiral" Education Sessions held two evenings each month from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (See program descriptions for all family programs, and for information regarding sign up for the education sessions.)

Why should I go for counselling? It is my partner/parent/son or daughter who has the problem.

You will get education that helps you understand what is happening to your loved one and your family and why. You will learn what works and what doesn’t work when communicating your concerns to this person. You will learn how to set effective boundaries with them. You will learn how to find emotional strength, peace and healing in the midst of the chaos around you. You will make new friends who understand what you’re going through and will support you when you are losing your belief in yourself, and lastly, we will teach you to believe in yourself and your ability to create the kind of world that works for you.

Our children never see them when they are drunk/high. Do you think they are being affected?

Children may not know what the problem really is but they can sense conflict and even tension. If they don't understand what's happening they may, even at a young age, believe that it is about them or that they are the problem. While there is help available in the community for children (Amethyst, Serenity Renewal), the best help is to get help for you. A family is a system. It only takes one person to become more relaxed and at ease to have a positive ripple affect on the whole family. Our Family Member programs can help.

Wouldn’t my partner/parent/son or daughter stop using if they really cared about me?

They probably would if they could. Substance abusers are often aware at some deeper level how much their using behaviour is hurting people, but the alcohol/drugs has become too important to them to stop. They may have become dependant on it, both physically and emotionally, and cannot bear the physical and emotional discomfort when they try to stop. In addition, for many, their failed attempts to stop and the censure of others has affected their self esteem to the point that they have lost hope in their ability to solve the problem. This, of course, also adds to their emotional pain. If you don’t see this emotional pain, it can be because they are too well defended. Our Family Member programs can help with this.

I love my partner/parent/son or daughter but they drink/use too many drugs

No, they are not right. Their perception and judgment are distorted by addiction. Few people get concerned about benign, casual alcohol or drug use. Your concerns are, no doubt, real. Not expressing your feelings about your concerns is not healthy for the user or for yourself. Don’t be surprised that you are not getting the response you are looking for. Your family member may be too frightened and ashamed to face this problem honestly. That doesn’t mean you need to stop trying. It may, however, mean finding a more effective way to deal with this worrisome and stressful situation. Our Family Member programs do that.
For those concerned about their use of Mood altering substances

I want to keep this information private. Can Rideauwood assure no person finds out.

What you tell us is kept absolutely confidential unless you either give us specific permission, or you have told us that you are about to harm another person or yourself. If you want us to be able to talk freely with someone, for example, another therapist or a family member, you must sign a "Release of Information" form giving us specific permission to speak freely to those individuals. By law, we are also required to report any abuse of children.

In our Drug Treatment Court program we are also required to report drug use or crime; this is part of the bail condition for DTC clients, as well as our DTC "Release of Information" form.

Can my family become involved?

By all means. We have several specific programs for family members and will make every effort to invite them to participate in them. (See our Family Program Descriptions) Family members are treated in their own separate programs for the first while so that they can learn some skills of loving detachment. Parents are an integral part of treatment in our Youth Programs. Eventually parents and their adolescent child will meet with the counsellor for constructive family sessions.

In Adult Programs some couples/family counselling is possible later on, but is restricted due to lack of resources. We usually refer out to other excellent community resources.

I want to stop using my drug of choice but I have never had any problems with alcohol or marijuana,

To be admitted to our program, yes. Although your body may react differently to different drugs, all drugs including alcohol impair our senses. Even small amounts can affect our ability to make good decisions such as whether or not to accept another drug that is being offered. In addition to this, any use of a mood altering substance reminds our brain how good it feels to medicate our emotions, remove our inhibitions. We may or may not become addicted to the new substance but it may certainly tease us back to the old one. Lastly, if our goal is to gain awareness about what we may need to change in our lives, use of any mood altering substance affects our ability to gain insight and see ourselves clearly. Abstinence is often the safest strategy. Abstinence is the most harm reduction you can achieve.

How long does it take to get into your adult addiction treatment programs?

Because the demand for our service is about double our capacity, provided in the Adult Program you will be provided a telephone intake interview with our Intake counsellor, and put on a waiting list. When a space in the Orientation Group becomes available you will be called and given a starting date and time.
  • In the Youth Treatment Program you can usually see a counsellor within a week or two.
  • In the Problem Gambling Program you can usually see a counsellor within a week.

Does Rideauwood have separate programs for women with addictions? What about youth?

Our addiction programs for women are not separate. These co-ed groups appeal to those women who feel comfortable in groups with men or who want to learn to be more comfortable with them. If being in a group with mixed gender is a concern, or if it would prevent you from being able to be open about your issues in group, we would recommend that you go to a women's only treatment center such as Amethyst. (See link).

Youth who are 18 years or older may best be treated in the Adult Program if this appears to be a good fit. Criteria we look for would be your level of independence. If you are married or living on your own and financially independent from your parents, you could be suitable for the Adult Program. If you are still living at home and receiving financial support, you may instead be better off being served in the Youth Program. The Intake counsellor can help you sort this out.

What kinds of professional treatment choices do I have?

Treatment can be either non-residential or residential, short term or long term. Which type is most appropriate for you will depend on the kinds of drugs, the frequency, and amounts you have been using, Usually an addiction agency or a detox intake worker can help you figure that out. If there is a risk of serious physical side effects of withdrawal, or if the environment in which you are living make it more beneficial for you to receive your treatment in a safe place, you could be referred to a residential program. These programs are located all over the province and usually keep you for a minimum of 21 days. A provincial description of addiction treatment resources can be reached at 1-800-565-8603 (Drug and Alcohol Helpline)

If such risks are not there for you and you can stop on your own for several days at a stretch,, you could do well in a non residential setting. There are short term settings and longer term settings such as Rideauwood. Although at first, most people want to get treatment over as quickly as possible and get on with their lives, most problem substance abusers who have been around the system for a while, realize (and this is verified by research) that the longer they continue to receive help, the greater the likelihood of successful abstinence and quality recovery.

If 21 days is not long enough for you to remain in a safe environment, there are also some local residential settings that provide a longer term stay. Usually the first month involves structured programming but after the first month clients can resume their normal jobs or activities and use the facility as a safe, supportive place to live in the interim.

What is the advantage of going to a group or a treatment program?

People are different but almost everyone can benefit from some form of professional addiction treatment. Maybe the support of a group of other people learning to cope with the same problem can help you stay motivated. Maybe that would be all you need. If so there are many self help groups out there just for that purpose (e.g. AA, NA - see links for meeting schedules).

Sometimes people have difficulty stopping initially because the withdrawal symptoms they go through when they stop are very uncomfortable. They appreciate the support of a Withdrawal Management Center (Detox) that can safely support them while they are going through this. They might even be able to provide some medication initially to help you through the pain of withdrawal.

For some, self help support is not enough. They realize that achieving a goal of abstinence also involves learning to enjoy a new lifestyle that doesn't include getting high. It might also involve learning new ways to cope with problems that were previously neglected or minimized through alcohol or drug use. For this kind of learning it is often helpful to enroll in a structured program that includes education and skills training as well as support. In addition, one can benefit from the experience and training of the professional counsellors who do the teaching and who facilitate the programs.

I should be able to handle this on my own. Am I right?

It might be, if you’ve made a real commitment to yourself and can keep it up. It isn’t just stopping, but maintaining that motivation and change over the long haul that is often the challenge. Most people find it easier to get some help. After all most clients have already tried using will power to stop in the past and it hasn’t worked over time. That’s because this isn’t really about how strong one’s will power is. Many addicted people have very strong will power in some areas. It’s often more about the brain chemistry you have been born with, or the brain chemistry that has been produced by many years of using alcohol and/or drugs. These can be treated. Understanding addiction and getting some long term support are the avenues that produce the best results for most people.

What if I just want to reduce my use? Will Rideauwood help me?

There are some addiction agencies that will work with a person in an early stage of addiction to help them reduce their use. Rideauwood is mandated to serve those who have the desire to make major changes in consumption of mood altering substances. Therefore, we may not be the best referral for you. Programs that do this work are Addiction and Problem Gambling Services of Ottawa or Lifestyle Enrichment for Senior Adults. (See links.) You do not have to be abstinent when you come to Rideauwood but you have to be working on the goal of abstinence in Adult Addiction Programs.



Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario
Gamblers Anonymous
Gamblers Anonymous – Eastern Ontario: Ottawa and the National Capital Area
Parents. The Anti-Drug
Gamblers Anonymous
Club Drugs (NIDA)
Project GHB: A Force of Prevention
Narcotics Anonymous World Services
Narcotics Anonymous Ottawa
Nar-Anon Family Groups of Ontario
Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous Ottawa
Al-Anon Family Groups
Ottawa Al-Anon
In The Rooms Global Recovery Community
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Canada)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (USA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (USA)