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The Rehab Waitlist Length Is Too Long: What Now?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 31 million people around the world have drug use addiction. In Canada, it is estimated that one in five people aged 15 and older will experience a substance use disorder in their lifetime. Looking at these figures, we can’t ignore the exceedingly alarming prevalence of addiction and its devastating effects in our communities.

Unfortunately, even when a person is willing to go to rehab now, government-funded drug rehab centres in the country are unable to accommodate everyone due to the lack of economic support.

The Average Rehab Waitlist Length

For most, an effective way to successfully combat addiction is to attend an alcoholism or drug rehab centre. Individuals who cannot afford to pay for private addiction treatment centres have no choice but to count on publicly-funded drug rehab centres. Unfortunately, the problematic rehab waitlist length can be extremely difficult for addicts to cope with who may feel like they are left to fend for themselves.

Based on a 2016 VICE News article, the typical waitlist for rehab length in government drug rehab centers across the country looks like this:

  • Quebec, New Brunswick and Nunavut – does not track
  • P.E.I and Yukon – would not provide
  • Northwest Territories – no facilities
  • Manitoba – 52 days
  • Ontario – 42.3 days
  • Saskatchewan – 25 days
  • Nova Scotia – 19.7 days
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – 18 days
  • British Columbia – 18 days
  • Alberta – 17 days

When a person struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction seeks help, timing is critical. Within days they could relapse or worse, overdose.

Some Tips for What You Can Do While on a Waitlist

Drug rehab centres protocol for waitlisting a patient can be frustrating for the addict. They are often advised to simply keep calling treatment facilities until a slot becomes available. It can be a cause of desperation, needing rehab now makes it more difficult for them to focus on getting better. Oftentimes, they try to cope the only way they know how – abusing substances.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you or a loved one is on the waitlist, know that it’s not a dead end and there are several things you can do to stay on track towards recovery.

Medical Detox Centres

A medically-supervised alcohol and drug detoxification program is an essential step in any addiction treatment plan. It helps the patient flush out all traces of the addictive substances in the body effectively while safely managing potential withdrawal symptoms. However, detoxing without addressing the root cause of addiction can be futile. Ideally, medical detox works best if there’s a guarantee that one can get admitted to rehab now or in the soonest possible time.

Woman calling a toll-free hotline for addiction support

Call a Telehealth or Helpline Number

Whether you would like to seek professional advice on how to start overcoming addiction or you need someone to talk to concerning about your mental health, you can call these confidential, toll-free hotlines

  • Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 
  • ConnexOntario: 1-866-531-2600 (Also available via live web chat and email) 

All calls are taken by professional nurses who are ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These hotlines are available to anyone – over 25% of helpline calls are from family members or concerned friends of addicts. The types of support they offer ranges from:

  • Various health topics including mental health concerns
  • Just to listen and offer emotional support
  • Provide basic educational awareness on addiction
  • Connect you to the nearest self-help groups, family counselling services and drug rehab centres in your area

Keep in mind these are not crisis hotlines for emergencies. For urgent concerns, call your local crisis number immediately.

In-Person Drug And Alcohol Support in RAAM Clinics 

If you live in the province of Ontario, there are rapid access addiction medicine (RAAM) clinics, which offer accessible non-urgent, short-term treatment services for people dealing with substance use issues, including alcohol, opioids, and other addictive drugs. RAAM clinics have a team of registered medical professionals composed of doctors, psychiatrists, internists, nurses, and counselors. 

They can provide the evidence-based medical and psychosocial addiction treatment strategies on the initial visit, including services such as:

  • Diagnoses for substance use disorders
  • Referral to primary care or residential drug rehab centers
  • Recommend treatment options
  • Initiate pharmacotherapy to reduce patient’s cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Same-day counselling
  • Provide trauma-informed care
  • Basic education to prevent overdoses
  • Connect patients to community services for addiction, psychosocial and social services

Typically, one does not need a physician referral or an appointment to visit a RAAM clinic. They are accessible on a walk-in basis with patients typically seen a few days of contacting the clinic. The addiction counsellors can also give suggestions on possible steps to take while on the waiting list of a public drug rehab centre. RAAM clinics are part of Canada’s health care system and an excellent example of an OHIP-covered addiction treatment plan.

Join Addiction Support Groups

Addiction support groups can be beneficial for anyone who is waiting for rehab now. Attending one can provide them with an outlet to process and validate repressed emotions. Being surrounded by other people who are on the same journey to recovery can make an individual feel less alone and even inspire them to continue healing towards sobriety. Most of these group counselling sessions are facilitated by trained addiction counsellors that help with guidance and can offer support while dealing with the uncertainty of the rehab waitlist length.

Many of these support groups or community treatment programs are offered for free. Some examples include:

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide organization helping men and women who have a history of alcohol abuse. AA prides itself on its strong community values by protecting the identity of its members, providing a safe space for everyone to share their experiences and it’s only requirement is the desire to stop drinking.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management And Recovery Training is a self-help recovery program available at several locations across Canada. They offer emotional support groups led by recovered addicts that aim to help others overcome substance abuse addictions like drugs or alcohol or behavioural addictions such as gambling or over-eating.

The Jean Tweed Centre

Founded specifically to help women who are suffering from substance abuse and who are looking for helpful resources while on the waitlist for public drug rehab centres. They have free services that include a weekly support and stabilization group for women. It has no waiting time and encourages people to come as often as they like.

For Rehab Now Choose Freedom From Addiction

Don’t let the rehab waitlist length stop you from starting your journey towards recovery. Freedom From Addiction is currently offering half a million dollars worth of addiction treatment services for free to all medical frontliners with our Frontline Support Program.

For more information about our drug addiction treatments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. A member of our team will get back to you shortly. Contact us today!


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