What is it?

Substance Abuse is commonly referred to as drug or alcohol addiction. Research has found that substance abuse has many contributing factors, some of which are genetically based. Substance abuse is regarded as a very serious mental illness no different than any other illness with obvious physical symptoms.

There are very strong links between substance abuse and other mental illnesses. About 50 per cent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse; 37 per cent of alcohol abusers and 53 per cent of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental illness and of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29 per cent abuse either alcohol or drugs.* When an individual has substance abuse or addiction at the same time as they suffer from a mental illness, this is referred to as a concurrent disorder.

*Journal of the American Medical Association

"I was spiritually dead, I was intellectually incapable of doing anything. I was just a shell wandering and The Royal rescued me."
Claude Lurette


The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program offers a variety of services to help patients and their families learn about substance abuse and how to live a chemical-free lifestyle.

Addiction treatment services are available to anyone with a determination to stop alcohol or drug abuse. Identification, prevention, early intervention, treatment and follow-up services are provided.

Addiction may be treated on its own or together with a concurrent disorder (mental illness). Treatment for each patient is administered by a team of professionals with a wide range of expertise and experience in dealing with substance abuse on its own and together with concurrent disorders. Treatment also draws on the other specialty mental health programs at The Royal as needed.

The program promotes lifestyle changes for clients that will allow them to reintegrate into the community with support in dealing with related psychosocial problems and assists family members in addressing addiction-related issues in their lives.

Below is an overview of the various aspects of the Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program at The Royal.

NEW: Alcohol Medical Intervention Clinic
The Alcohol Medical Intervention Clinic is an outpatient clinic at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre to provide quick follow up services for people seen in The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department with significant, potentially life-threatening alcohol problems.

The clinic provides fast, medically supported withdrawal for people who have been referred by The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department.

Staffed by two nurses, a social worker and addiction medicine doctors from The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program, the clinic provides same day or next-day access to short-term medical withdrawal management support, while working with clients to find an appropriate community or hospital-based program for longer-term support.

  • Patients referred from The Ottawa Hospital Emergency Department are seen in the clinic at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, 1145 Carling Ave., Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 11a.m. No appointment is needed.
  • People are encouraged to go to the clinic as soon as possible after being discharged from the emergency department.
  • Patients are assessed for their treatment needs and may receive medication for alcohol withdrawal management and/or anti-craving medication. Clinic staff will provide management and monitoring of the patient on an outpatient basis.
  • Assessment for further treatment needs either within The Royal’s Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders program or with a community treatment agency is provided, including linking patients to these services.

  • Early Intervention for Opioid Addiction

    The new Regional Opioid Intervention Service support and treatment for people who are concerned about their opioid addiction (ie. Fentanyl, Percocet, Dilaudid, Hydromorphone, Oxycontin) and related mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. We provide outpatient opioid detoxification and follow up services as well as mental health treatment based on each patient’s unique needs. Our clinic provides detoxification and maintenance services as well as mental health assessment and treatment options for people dealing with opioid addiction. Partner organizations will identify clients in need and share in their ongoing care – in activities such as case management, counselling, and social supports.

    Contact us and we can discuss with you all of the options that are available and help you find the best solution for you.

    Contact us for more information

    By phone:
    Leanne, Addiction Counsellor, at 613.722.6521 ext 6224
    By email: opioidservice@theroyal.ca
    In person:
    1145 Carling Avenue – Substance Use & Concurrent Disorders office on the 2nd floor with a valid OHIP card.

    Assessment and Stabilization

    Assessment, medically-supervised detoxification and stabilization are offered at the Carling Avenue site in a 12-bed inpatient unit or in an outpatient clinic. Clients are introduced to self-help groups and to concepts of addiction treatment and education. Subsequently, clients are referred to programs at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre or in the community that best meets their needs.

    Residential and Day Treatment

    Meadow Creek offers a 21-day treatment program with 12 resident and 10 day patients participating in identical activities and programs. Individual and group therapy sessions help clients learn about substance abuse and recovery and how to live free of alcohol and other psycho-active substances. The program is followed by a one-week intensive outpatient aftercare program, weekly aftercare sessions for eight weeks, and monthly sessions for nine months.

    Concurrent Disorder Assessment and Treatment

    The Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program includes assessments for adult clients with both a mental health issue and a substance abuse problem. Individualized therapy and follow-up may be offered as well as recommendations for treatment.

    Evening and or Afternoon Educational Programs

    Educational and support programs are provided for patients who are experiencing substance use disorder problems, but who are unable to attend an intensive treatment program or who are assessed to be appropriate for this treatment approach.

    The program consists of 16 weekly meetings designed to provide education about various aspects of addiction and recovery. Clients must be abstaining from the use of all psychoactive substances prior to referral to this program.

    Family Support

    Family members and those emotionally involved with substance abusers require assistance to deal with the effects of chemical dependency on their lives. Our staff are trained to help families that have loved ones in our program. Learn more about some of The Royal's family support groups.

    Relapse Prevention

    Weekly group therapy sessions are provided for those who have attended a treatment program and relapsed.

    Early Intervention Program

    This school-based program operates in conjunction with local school boards. It is designed for students at risk for developing chemical dependency as indicated by early warning signs or predisposing factors and for students for whom use of alcohol and other drugs has just begun to create problems.

    Community Outreach

    The substance use and concurrent disorders program at The Royal provides outreach to community shelters and the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre. An addiction counselor works with these organizations to help clients get connected to appropriate addiction services.

    Addiction Programs Admission Process

    Individuals can self-refer to the Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program at The Royal. An appointment must be set up for the prospective client to be assessed by a staff physician prior to admission. A physician or addiction organization may send a referral but the patient must still present in person.

    Patients in the Ottawa area are expected to present in person with a valid Ontario health card at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre at 1145 Carling Avenue. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed all statutory holidays).

    Patients living outside Ottawa are asked to call the office at 613.722.6521, ext. 6508 during office hours to schedule their appointment. Please have your valid Ontario health card at hand when calling.

    The costs of treatment are covered by OHIP.


    Assessment services are available in English or French; all other services are available in English only.



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