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Residential Withdrawal Management

The Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre provides an area with 6 beds for women completely separated from an area with 20 beds for men.

The Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre provides an area with 6 beds for women completely separated from an area with 20 beds for men. Those beds are meant for those who want to withdraw from substances in a safe and structured environment with 24/7 monitoring and support from counsellors. Counsellors offer help during the acute stages of intoxication, withdrawal and crisis. Treatment and discharge planning are provided in cooperation with the Service Access to Recovery (SAR), located on site.

Virtual visit

OWMC virtual visit from CGSO on Vimeo.

Admission criteria

The Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre’s services are voluntary and are designed for people 16 years and older who want help to stop using alcohol and/or other drugs. If you are experiencing symptoms of intoxication or withdrawal, or a crisis related to substance use, this service is appropriate for you. You need to be able to walk unassisted and to address any immediate medical needs before entering the program.

For clients with medical conditions or severe withdrawal symptoms:

  • If you have a history of severe withdrawal symptoms or seizures, please ensure that you have the appropriate medication to assist with these symptoms.
  • If you are diabetic, please bring all prescribed medication with you. We will ask you to measure your blood sugar throughout your stay.
  • If you need medication for any mental health problem, please bring them with you.
  • Depending on your health issues, we may ask that you see a doctor for medical clearance before being admitted to our program.

Referral Process

Most clients refer themselves to the program directly. Referrals may also be initiated by family members, friends, health care professionals, community agencies, employee assistance programs or legal representatives. If you would like to change your substance use, we are available to speak with you at all times, day or night. Participation to all programs is voluntary.

A counsellor will complete a telephone screening with you prior to your admission. An admission time may then be arranged if a bed is available, or a referral may be made to a more appropriate program.


What to Expect

You will have access to a full continuum of care that includes the following:

Intake: When you call, a counsellor will ask you some questions and, if appropriate, will give you an intake time. When you arrive, a counsellor will bring you into the intake office in order to ask you some additional questions, including what you have used and when. This is a completely judgment-free step and the purpose is to make sure we can support your withdrawal process safely. Following a thorough assessment of your personal belongings and clothes, the counselor will transfer you to the observation unit.

Observation: You will be given a bed in the observation unit, where counsellors will monitor you very closely. The unit has 9 beds for men and, separately, 4 beds for women. There are washrooms and showers. This is a time for rest and recovery. You will be offered meals and snacks. You will have to stay in observation for at least 4 hours, but most individuals will need to stay for 24 hours, and sometimes longer. During your first 4 hours in observation, phone calls and smoking are prohibited.

Program participation: When your acute withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you may start participating in acupuncture, educational counselling groups and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) information sessions/Smart Recovery groups. A counsellor will also meet with you to discuss your treatment goals and plans.

Assessment process: If you would like to find out more about long-term treatment options, you can meet with a counsellor from the Service Access to Recovery (SAR) while you are in our care. They will do an assessment and guide you towards the right treatment option based on your personal needs.

After your stay: You are welcome to call us any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to talk about how your recovery is going or to ask for additional support. Please call us if you feel you might start using your substance again. Some people find it helpful to attend the day program after their withdrawal phase. We encourage you to speak with one of our counsellors during your stay or to call us afterwards to inquire about support through the day program.

What to bring

  • All prescribed medications in their original containers.
  • Toiletry items, including toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. Please ensure no items contain alcohol.
  • Something to read, or materials to write or draw.
  • One comfortable change of clothes. We will provide hospital pajamas.
  • Phone numbers you may need. You will have access to a phone (but not to your cell phone).

What to leave at home

  • Extra clothes. You will have access to a washing machine to clean your set of clothing.
  • Anything sharp or dangerous, like scissors or knife.
  • Cell phone.
  • Mouthwash, cologne, perfume, or anything with alcohol in it.
  • Any medication that is not currently prescribed to you.


Please take care of any regular medical, eye and dental appointments before you come to OWMC for treatment. Outings are only permitted in cases where clients are using prescribed methadone, have immediate and urgent medical needs, or have an appointment related to addictions or mental health treatment.

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