William Osler Health Centre’s Addiction Counselling Services help people regain control of their lives


It’s a problem as old as fermentation and taking too many chances. For many Ontarians it is something that turns their lives upside down, without mercy. The culprit can be something as simple as a glass of wine or a pair of dice. Whatever the trigger, addiction is an illness and fortunately, like most illnesses, it can be cured or at least controlled.

The Addiction Services at William Osler Health Centre has been treating the illnesses associated with addictions for many years. To say that they have saved lives may seem a bit dramatic. But for the more than 6,500 patients seen last year, it is not so far from the truth.

Whether the problems are drugs, alcohol or gambling, staff at The Addiction Services provide clients with the tools to help them survive, to cope, to get back their lives.

“When I see people who come to our service for the first time I’m seeing wounded people. They have lost self-esteem and self-confidence and have been kicked around because of their abuse be it alcohol or drugs or both,” says Jean-Guy Ranger who’s been a counsellor for 21 years.

According to Tom Dickson, Chief of Staff at William Osler Health Centre, there is a very great need for this service in Peel Region. “There is a significant population at risk for addictions in the Region of Peel. With the tremendous growth in population, it has become an under serviced area for addiction counselling services.”

Ted Bober, Manager for Addiction Services says he and his team are working to address this issue. “We are trying to meet that need as best as we can and, in fact, have recently hired some additional staff including two gambling counsellors.”

Addiction Services at William Osler Health Centre
Withdrawal Management Centre,
135 McLaughlin Rd.S.
Brampton, Ontario L6Y 2C8
Phone: (905)456-3500. We are a 24h service.

To access Problem Gambling and Addiction Services
118 Queen St. W., Ste 301, Brampton, Ontario L6X 1A5
Phone: (905) 796-3005 Mon-Fri 8:30 – 4:30

Addiction Counselling Services has three main components: Withdrawal Management, Addiction Counselling and a Gambling Program. Withdrawal Management helps people who are experiencing intoxication or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol or who are in crisis and need immediate help. In the last fiscal year, the service had 1,534 admissions to its 20-bed self-contained centre located away from the main hospital. Open 24-hours every day, they help adults safely withdraw from alcohol and drugs. It is the only service of its kind in the Peel and Halton Regions. They also support clients and families experiencing a crisis related to alcohol or drugs and offer to assess and support them in the best options for healthier lifestyle. Addiction Counselling is provided on an outpatient basis. Last year more than 800 people sought help. The Gambling Program is a relatively new service also offered as an outpatient service. They saw 139 people last year. Both offer confidential and caring assessment and counselling services for people who are concerned about their gambling or use of alcohol or drugs. Services are provided for adults during the weekdays and two weekday evenings. A large number of people receive help through the phone. In fact, more than 4,000 phone interventions were logged last year.

“What is important for people with an addiction problem is to get grounded and discontinue the abuse,” notes Jean-Guy. “You can’t get anywhere until you stop that. The next step is to introduce that person to him or herself without the addiction. This is a big part of confronting a profound false belief that in order to survive in the big bad world ‘I’ need the drugs or ‘I’ need the alcohol or the gambling to get through the day.”

For Jean-Guy and his colleagues, one of the key successes of the work they do helping people regain their lives is that the community benefits too.

“Whenever I see someone coming in here wounded, mending and healing, I see someone who is also a member of my community. It makes me feel good to know in some way I have helped that person because he or she will go out into the community transformed and get involved. They have jobs and many turn to help others who were once in the situation they were in.”

It may seem clichéd, but the secret to success still is taking things one day at a time. A simple message to those who may be suffering alone and in silence – Set aside one day, just one day. Ask for help, listen, and then go from there.