Rideauwood’s School-Based Program is provided to all 45 English Language High Schools and 42 Senior Elementary Schools in Ottawa-Carleton. The Program serves students who have problems in and out of school related to alcohol and/or drug use. Services are also provided to students’ parents/families. Rideauwood trains school staff to make effective referrals of students to the Rideauwood School-Based Program.


Substance use treatment in schools reduces alcohol and drug use, improves academic performance, improves family life and increases the school’s effectiveness in dealing with alcohol and drug related problems in students.

Rideauwood has worked in partnership with high schools in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) since 1986, delivering a comprehensive education and counselling service to students and their parents with issues related to substance use.

Overall, schools report significant improvement in behavior, grades, attendance and retention. Students, who had already been suspended or expelled or who had dropped out, are also served to ensure their success when they are re-admitted to school. In our 2011 evaluation, the average student seen used drugs or alcohol nearly every day of the month; smoking marijuana 22 days and binge drinking fo 8 days of the month. After treatment, more than 75% of the students seen stopped or reduced their drug and alcohol use. More than 10% of the students are also using “other” drugs, most commonly cocaine, hallucinogens and/or ecstasy. The greatest reductions in use were found with these drugs. More than 70% of clients completely ceased using and more than 85% showed marked reductions.

Also in the 2011 Evaluation, it was determined that, of the students seen, approximately 48% of them had been identified by school staff as “high risk of dropping out”; 87% of those identified, completed the school year. Many of the students seen were struggling academically, with 1 in 5 students failing. After treatment, 80% of those students improved academically.


The School-Based Program operates within the parameters required by each School Board and each School’s administration. The Rideauwood Substance Use Counsellor, Vice-Principals, Guidance Counsellors, School Social Workers, Special Education Staff and other community resources identify and respond to students in difficulty as a result of alcohol and drugs. Counselling includes individual and group counselling and is available year round. Referrals for alcohol/drug related problems are made by the School to the Rideauwood Substance Use Counsellor. Services are delivered during school hours. For some students, a combination of a School-Based Program as well as the Youth Substance Use Program, at Rideauwood’s Agency Site (312 Parkdale Avenue) is needed to maintain the necessary treatment support. There are a variety of School-Based Substance Use/Addiction services available:

Motivational Substance Use Counselling:
Ongoing assessment and counselling are provided for students with alcohol and/or drug use problems and academic, emotional, behavioral, legal or other addiction related problems. Reduction of alcohol and drug use is both a goal for students and also a clinical strategy to develop recognition of the student’s need to continue to address alcohol/drug related problems. If other outpatient or residential inpatient treatment referrals are required, the Rideauwood Counsellor monitors the student during treatment and facilitates re-entry to school or Continuing Care at Rideauwood. Parents of the student are also offered counselling and support during this process at school and agency offices.

Recovery Counselling:
Counselling is provided to students who have recognized an alcohol and/or drug problem and are motivated to maintain an alcohol/drug-free lifestyle. Reintegration and ongoing counselling is provided to students returning from residential treatment facilities. Parents are also offered counselling.

Concerned Person Counselling:
Counselling is provided to students who have family or friends with substance use problems. These students are often at high risk for developing a drug and alcohol problem themselves so counselling in this respect also helps prevent early alcohol/drug use from becoming a serious problem.

Parent Services:
The School-Based Program serves concerned parents in the school. When a child is using drugs and/or alcohol, parents are usually in great distress and do not know the most effective way to respond. Service in the school, as well as our extensive Parent Program at the agency, provide education, counselling and support.

Other Services:
In class presentations, training for school staff, School Council presentations and outreach to feeder schools. Students and parents are also offered services at Rideauwood’s offices, located at 312 Parkdale Avenue.

Getting Started

If your teen attends one of the listed schools, you or your teen can call the Guidance Department to initiate service for your family.

For professionals looking for further information on Rideauwood’s school-based services please contact the Executive Director at 613-724-4881.

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Ottawa Catholic School Board

Adult High School All Saints High School
A.Y. Jackson Secondary School Frank Ryan Senior Elementary
Bell High School Holy Trinity High School
Brookfield High School Immaculata High School
Cairine Wilson High School Lester B. Pearson High School
Canterbury High School Mother Teresa High School
Castor Valley Elementary Notre Dame High School
Colonel By High School (Coming Soon!) Sacred Heart High School
Earl of March Secondary School St. Francis Xavier High School
Elizabeth WynWood Secondary School St. Joseph High School
Frederick Banting Alternate Program St. Mark High School
Glebe Collegiate Institute St. Matthew High School
Gloucester High School St. Patrick`s High School
Hillcrest High School St. Patrick`s Intermediate
John McRae Secondary School St. Paul High School
Lisgar Collegiate Institute St. Peter High School
Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School St. Pius X High School
Merivale High School
Metcalfe Public School St. Mary`s Outreach Home
Nepean High School
Norman Johnson Alternate Program
Osgoode Township High School
Ottawa Technical High School
Richard Pfaff Alternate Program
Rideau High School
Ridgemont High School
Sir Guy Carleton Secondary School
Sir Robert Borden High School
Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School
South Carleton Secondary School
West Carleton Secondary School
Woodroffe High School

Our Funders/Partners for the School-Based Program are: