Who is the information in this pamphlet for?
This pamphlet is for parents/guardians, relatives, teachers, friends and anyone who may be concerned about alcohol or other
substance use in a person under 25.
Some young people may experiment with substances without requiring treatment. For young people who are experiencing problems
as a result of alcohol or other substance use, there are a few different types of treatment:
Outpatient and day treatment are readily available in Toronto, and are generally the most appropriate type of help for young people. In some instances,
more intensive treatment may be recommended. However, access to these other types of treatment is more limited.
Outpatient treatment means that a counsellor meets with a young person and/or the person’s family. The frequency of these meetings is decided
between the counsellor and the young person or family. A few agencies provide services in the community, meeting young people
and their families at home or another convenient location.
Day treatment programs take place daily from Monday to Friday, and usually consist of both school and group treatment with other young
people. Most day treatment programs take at least eight weeks and can continue for up to one year or even more, depending
on the program and the young person. Many programs also offer family counselling and one-on-one counselling.
Withdrawal management is needed when a young person needs to get a substance “out of his or her system” before being able to benefit completely
from any other treatment program. At the moment, there are no youth-specific withdrawal management programs in the Greater
Toronto Area. However, the Toronto Withdrawal Management System now provides some access to day and community withdrawal management
services. Look for their contact information at the end of this pamphlet.
Residential treatment is more intensive treatment, for which a young person stays at a treatment facility 24 hours a day. These programs can last
from 21 days to several months.
Recovery homes provide a safe, supportive living environment for people who have made changes in their lives with respect to substance use.
Services provided include counselling, life skills training and help accessing community resources in preparation for independent
What services are available for young people with both mental health and substance use problems?
These services are called concurrent disorders programs. These programs specifically treat both the mental health and substance
Most of the treatment types mentioned above are free of charge. Some require a valid Ontario health card.
Are these services private?
Young people are given the chance to speak with a counsellor alone. Counsellors respect a young person’s right to privacy.
Are these services voluntary?
All of the treatment programs mentioned here are voluntary.
What is harm reduction?
Harm reduction is an approach to working with young people that emphasizes safety, and aims to reduce the harm associated with alcohol and
other substance use. It meets young people where they are, and does not demand that they stop using alcohol or other substances.
It works with them to help them achieve whatever goals they have at the time. Harm reduction is about the young person’s choice,
which can include reducing or stopping use.
- The Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment (DART) and Mental Health Service Information Ontario (MHSIO) can tell you about
services for young people with substance use problems, mental health problems or a combination of both (concurrent disorders).
These services include assessment services to determine the best type of treatment for the young person.
- The Toronto Withdrawal Management System can help with withdrawal from alcohol and/or other substances. A counsellor will
help you find the right location and type of withdrawal management services to suit the needs of the young person.
- Toronto Withdrawal Management System: 1 866 366-9513
- Community Connection supplies information about many different community resources, including agencies that provide assessment
and treatment for young people with substance use problems or other concerns.
- Community Connection: 211
- CAMH’s Information Centre can provide information and support. They also
have audio-taped messages about substances, substance use and mental health issues.
- CAMH's Information Centre:
1 800 463-6273 (in Toronto, call 416 595-6111)
This pamphlet was developed by the Toronto Youth Addiction Cluster, representing a number of agencies serving youth with substance