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Struggling with an addiction in Canada? These resources can help

Why relapse is a normal part of addiction
Addiction is a chronic illness, and yet as Dr. Raj Bhatla, the chief of staff and psychiatrist-in-chief at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, explains, society still doesn’t see it that way.

Addiction is more common than perhaps we’d like to admit: an estimated six million Canadians will meet the criteria for addiction in the course of their lifetime.

It isn’t a choice, although experts say it’s often portrayed as such, which only serves to further stigmatize those who are struggling.

“Sure, we’ll make the decision to use (the first time), but nobody decides to live that lifestyle,” Kim Hellemans, chair of the neuroscience department at Carleton University in Ottawa, told Global News last year.

READ MORE: Elliot, an alcoholic, asked his parole officer for help. She sent him back to prison

To distinguish between finding it hard to say no and a substance use disorder, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) qualifies addiction with the four Cs: craving, loss of control of amount or frequency of use, compulsion to use and using despite the consequences.

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CAMH offers plenty of starting points if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction.

It has a free online tutorial, an addiction information guide and advice for how to spot and talk about a substance use disorder. It even has information for children who worry their parents are drinking too much.

If you need help close to you, here are some resources to get you started — everything from publicly funded programs to 24-7 helplines and crisis lines.

Substance addiction: How the COVID-19 pandemic affects people in recovery
Substance addiction: How the COVID-19 pandemic affects people in recovery

Click to skip ahead to find the resources where you live: Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

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Remember, as you go, to be gentle with yourself.

As Dr. Raj Bhatla, chief of staff and psychiatrist-in-chief at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, notes:

“Many parts of our society see (addiction) as a social weakness or an individual weakness, and that’s not OK.”

Ontario

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • For addiction treatment centres across the province, click here or click here.
  • ConnexOntario offers services and information for people experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness and/or gambling. Their phone line is open 24-7 at 1-866-531-2600. You can also web chat or email ConnexOntario.
  • If you’re a post-secondary student in Ontario or Nova Scotia, Good2Talk offers confidential text and phone support.
  • Distress and Crisis Ontario can connect you with the 24-7 distress centre near you.
  • In Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) offers a number of different programs. You can look at its online directory or call 416-535-8501, ext. 2.

Manitoba

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba offers addictions services across the province. Call its helpline at 1-855-662-6605.
  • Call the 24-hour problem gambling helpline at 1-800-463-1554.
  • The Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line operates 24-7 at 1-877-435-7170, or you can visit www.reasontolive.ca.
  • The Klinic Crisis line operates 24-7 at 204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019.
  • Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services is available Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1-866-367-3276.

Saskatchewan

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • The province’s healthline is available 24-7 at 811 or 1-877-800-0002.
  • A list of addiction services in different communities is available here.
  • The problem gambling helpline is available 24-7 at 1-800-306-6789.
Mother of fire victim pleads for alcohol addiction resources
Mother of fire victim pleads for alcohol addiction resources

Alberta

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • The province’s addiction helpline is available 24-7 at 1-866-332-2322.
  • The province’s mental health helpline is available 24-7 at 1-877-303-2642.
  • If you need help figuring out where to start, call the province’s Health Link at any hour of the day at 811.
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How is Alberta battling the opioid crisis?

British Columbia

Yukon

READ MORE: ‘Not in My Backyard’ — How NIMBYism impacts access to vital support services

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Northwest Territories

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • To find a counsellor in your community, click here.
  • If you’re trying to quit smoking, the NWT Quitline is available 24-7 at 1-866-286-5099.
  • The territories’ helpline is available 24-7 at 1-800-661-0844.

Nunavut

  • The Kamatsiaqtut Helpline is available 24 hours a day. If you’re in Iqaluit, call 867 979 3333. If you’re outside of Iqaluit or in Nunavumiut, call: 1-800-265-333. You can also visit them online by clicking here.
Nova Scotia’s Wellness Court focuses on mental health, addiction
Nova Scotia’s Wellness Court focuses on mental health, addiction

Newfoundland and Labrador

    • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
    • Try Bridge the gApp, an online resource created by the government to connect you with local resources. The youth version of the resource can be found here.
    • The province’s mental health crisis line is available 24 hours a day at 1-888-737-4668.

Prince Edward Island

Need urgent help? Call Health PEI toll-free at 1-888-299-8399. Otherwise, here are some island resources:

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  • The Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility in Charlottetown can be reached at 902-368-4120 or 1-888-299-8399.
  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • The P.E.I. gambling support line is available at 1-855-255-4255.
  • To reach the Smokers’ Helpline, call 1-877-513-533 or click here.

 

For counselling services in your region:

    • Souris: 902-687-7110
    • Montague: 902-838-0960
    • Charlottetown: 902-569-0524 or 1-888-299-8399 toll-free
    • Summerside: 902-888-8380
  • Alberton: 902-853-0401

READ MORE: Suicide is preventable, but experts say we need better data and more support

Nova Scotia

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • A provincial mental health crisis line is available 24-7 at 1-888-429-8167.
  • The health authority’s addiction services are available Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call 1-855-922-1122.
  • Search for the resources closest to you that match your needs by using the government’s programs directory here.
  • If you’re a post-secondary student in Ontario or Nova Scotia, Good2Talk offers confidential text and phone support.
The criminalization of addictions
The criminalization of addictions

New Brunswick

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • To find the provincial addiction services office in your region, go here.
  • To access information specific to your circumstances, you can call Tele-Care 24-7 at 811.

Quebec

  • To find your local Alcoholics Anonymous group, click here.
  • The provincial helpline service is available 24-7 by calling 514-527-2626 in Montreal or 1-800-265-2626 outside of Montreal.
  • Info-Social is another provincial 24-7 line for those needing psychosocial supports. Call 1-877-644‑4545.
  • Tel-jeunes offers support specifically for young people. Call 1-800-263-2266. It also offers a text messaging service between 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. at 514-600-1002.
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What it’s like being an alcoholic in prison

Online resources

If you’re looking for judgment-free places to discuss addiction, here are some support groups:

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  • The Parents of Children Struggling with Drugs or Alcohol: visit or join here.
  • The Addict’s Mom Group: don’t be fooled by the name — the Canadian group is for anyone whose loved ones are struggling. The group is not recommended for recovering addicts who have been sober for less than 12 months. Visit or join here.
  • Families for Addiction Recovery: this group recommends books, online support tools, and other community resources. Visit here.

Do you have a resource you’d like Global to consider adding to the list? Email jane.gerster@globalnews.ca.