girl wanting free addiction treatment

Why Free Addiction Treatment is Needed!

We consistently receive requests about information on addiction treatment.  The pro’s and con’s of government funded addiction treatment is one question we get asked the most.  Firstly, any form of addiction treatment is a start in the right direction.  Trying to get or stay clean and sober is hard enough with support let alone attempting it on your own.  The fact that drug rehab funded by the government is available is a huge benefit for those living in Canada and parts of the United States.  For this post we will focus on substance abuse treatment provided in Canada, and more specifically Vancouver and the greater Vancouver area.  In the early 90’s, addiction treatment became more mainstream and the stigma around addiction began to change.  Addiction has been classified as a disease and the need for treatment for this disease became more available.  Through the SUAP (substance use and addictions program) which was created by the government, they provide funding for various non-profit organizations that provide services for treating addiction and mental health disorders.

The Boom of Free Drug Rehab Programs!

It is true that treating addiction is a business.  Unfortunatly, this new government funded addiction treatment created the ability for many people to create a society or non-profit organization and capitalize on treating those afflicted by addiction.  There became so many different places to go, some good and some not so good.  Eventually, the government started to crack down on low service societies.  They began to implement more policy around what services needed to be provided and began doing regular check-ins on organizations.  This did manage to improve some places, but it also left many people homeless as they began to shut places down.  As you can see there were pro’s and con’s of government funded addiction treatment early on, and they continue to today.

Todays Pro’s and Con’s of Government Funded Addiction Treatment.

Although much has changed as far as services provided, intake procedures, and the continuum of care in the addiction field, improvements can still be made.  The most obvious pro to free addiction treatment is that fact that it is free.  Today there are serveral price points for treatment, ranging from $1400-$12,000 a month for drug rehab programs.  As with most services, you would expect that the quality would be better based on the higher costs.  For addiction treatment, this is not necessarily the case.  As we talked about earlier, with the boom of free drug rehab, there was also a boom of private drug rehab which led to many places becoming focussed on money and not helping.

Secondly, free addiction treatment is abundant and you have many choices of drug rehab near you.  And if you don’t have places near you, it is most likely that there is a place no more than a few hours away.  Again we are focussed on the greater Vancouver area.

Thirdly, seeing as there is an abundance of free treatment, this makes them very accesible for potential clients wanting to get in.  Going through the referral process can be tedious for some but there is help for that as well.

The main benefit for goverment funded treatment is that fact that they use evidence based treatment methods such as CBT, MAT, Matrix Model, and 12 step facilitation therapy to list a few.  The sucess of each of these is an ongoing debate as to which is the best.  The answer to this in my opinion would be that they all work if the client that is participating in it is fully committed to sobriety.  I would go as far as saying that the more methods you can introduce to your recovery, the more likely you are to continue to be in recovery.

Con’s of Drug Rehab Funded by the Government!

One of the main downfalls to free drug rehab is that you may have to wait awhile to get in.  Some places have waitlists up to 6 months, and for most the window of opportunity or moment of clarity as some call it can be very short.  When this is the case, there is always the option of entering into a local recovery house which is usually easier to get into immediately as apposed to a licensed treatment centre.


It is important to point out the difference between licensed addiction treatment and licensed recovery houses.  The number and sometimes qaulity of services provided are very different.  A licensed recovery house needs to be listed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act.  The services that they providdrug rehab funded by the governmente are not considered treatment.  Although the house may be run by well meaning people, they are not required to provide treatment services.  Recovery houses are usually a safe place for a person to stay at and most of them require individuals to attend 12 step meetings or some form of community support. 

A licensded treatment centre will have medical staff, clinicians, counsellors, group facilitation, and drug rehab programming.  So there are different types of drug rehab funded by the government, and knowing which one you are entering is important.  The length of time it takes to get into treatment is a main reason why people will look into private treatment options. 

Secondly, many of the licensed treatment centres around are operating on methods that they initially started with, meaning that the evidence based practices may not be current.  Thirdly, the amount of one-one time is limited.  Most of the government funded treatment facilities have a very high staff to client ratio.  This means that the amount of one-one time you receive may not be the amount that you require. 

And lastly, the all around quality of care and lack of specific treatments can be lacking.  With only so much budget, the variety of treatment methods is low.  Again we need to stress the fact that any form of rehabilitation is a step in the right direction.  There is going to be pro’s and con’s to any treatment method you choose.  The main focuss should be on getting the proper care you need.  This should be done by seeing a certified addiction counsellor and going through a proper assessment and preparing a strategic drug rehab plan.

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