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Addictions - Alcohol

This section of our website describes some of the effects and withdrawal symptoms of a number of different substances. You are welcome to read about them briefly here, but we recommend that you call us directly for more information and help. Trying to assess your condition by yourself can be risky. The information provided here is not meant as a substitute for professional advice or support.
For more detailed information about the effects, risks and withdrawal symptoms associated with a variety of substances and addictions, visit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website.


If you are addicted to alcohol and have made the decision to stop drinking, you can expect a number of unpleasant physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, trembling, sweating and insomnia. More severe effects can include convulsions, seizures or hallucinations. You may also feel upset, anxious or depressed.
When you arrive at the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Center (OWMC), we will assess your condition in order to determine if withdrawal in our Centre will be safe for you. We may refer you to a hospital if need be.
If our evaluation determines that it is safe for you to withdraw in our Centre, you’ll be assigned a bed in our observation unit, where we will offer continuous support and monitoring. Most people begin with an observation period of 4 to 24 hours. When the worst of your symptoms have settled, you can begin a treatment program that includes counselling, acupuncture, AA sessions and more. A counsellor will be available to discuss your longer-term treatment goals and plans. After your stay, you may call us any time (24/7) to talk about your recovery or ask for more support.
Once they have been through the initial withdrawal phase, most people will need additional treatment to help them with their recovery goals. This could mean residential or outpatient treatment, individual or group therapy, self-help or mutual help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous/Smart Recovery, and certain medications.
For more information about alcohol addiction, visit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health