Inpatient Withdrawal Unit (Alcohol and Drug Services, Canberra Health Services)

Provides up to 7 days of medicated residential inpatient support for people experiencing withdrawal from AOD.

Telephone: (02) 5124 9977
Fax: (02) 6244 2744
Mailing Address: GPO Box 825, Canberra City ACT 2601
Email address:
Location: Building 7, The Canberra Hospital, Palmer St, Garran ACT 2605
Parent organisation: Alcohol and Drug Services, Canberra Health Services

Access Information

Maximum waiting time for service: 

  • Up to one month
  • Triage based on medical priority and bed availability

Target Group:

  • Adults
  • Men and women
  • Accepts both ACT and interstate residents, however ACT residents get priority

Documentation required:

  • Medicare card
  • Concession card
  • Prescriptions

When and how to access:

Operating Hours: Program operating hours are  24 hours a day (7 days a week)
Ways to access: By appointment only
Disability access: Accessible toilets and doorways
Referrals accepted from: Self, friend/family, another service, GP, Courts, Police
Transport assistance available: Taxi
Childcare available: No childcare available
Other access information: Can access when intoxicated, however a medical assessment is required prior to admission if high level of intoxication


  • Assessment required
  • Over the phone
  • Face-to-face
  • Takes less than 1 hour

Specialist ATOD assessment includes:

  • Comprehensive alcohol, tobacco and other drug assessment
  • Comprehensive mental health history
  • Physical health & medical history
  • Includes other assessments (i.e. child protection if appropriate, Suicide Vulnerability Assessment Tool)

Drug Testing

  • Drug testing is conducted as part of treatment; the tests are conducted in-house/on-site by program staff and conducted by pathology laboratories
  • Types of testing used include; Urine drug screening, breath alcohol concentration by Alcohol Breathalyzer, smoking status by Smokerlyser

Admission Requirements for Residential Services Only

  • Mobile phone stored during stay
  • Searching of possessions
  • Possessions stored during stay (i.e. valuables)
  • Confiscation and disposal of alcohol and other drugs
  • Confiscation and disposal of tobacco
  • Time and days available for admission are 9.30am – 2pm (Monday – Friday)


Program type: Inpatient residential withdrawal

Model: Medical (medicated as required)

Duration and intensity: Average stay up to 5-7 days

Not able to consume alcohol or other drugs while in program: No alcohol or other drugs to be consumed during program. Withdrawal medication as required, prescription medications maintained.

Philosophical approach: Harm minimisation

Additional program description: Provides up to 7 days of medicated residential support for people experiencing withdrawal from AOD. Therapeutic support, referrals, follow-up specialist services and a psychosocial group program is provided including relapse prevention groups. Relapse prevention planning is supported and 2 week follow up phone call is made after discharge. Social Work support is available during the admission as well as support from a Nicotine Replacement Therapy Clinician. Therapeutic groups are held daily as well as supervised therapeutic walks. Attendance at Smart Recovery and AA meetings are encouraged.

Additional supports available:

  • Aftercare (i.e. Linkages and referral to groups and/or counselling and treatment services)
  • Nutrition and Cooking Group and Art Therapy is provided weekly
  • Staff provide follow up phone calls two weeks after discharge to support continuation of relapse prevention planning.

Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Support

  • Screening and pre treatment for viral hepatitis on-site
  • Supports people to maintain Hepatitis C treatment
  • Supports people with advanced liver disease to access ongoing liver monitoring support through external organisations
  • Referrals to access screening & treatment for sexually transmitted infections with external providers
  • Provides safe sex information
  • Partnerships with sexual health organisations

Harm Reduction

  • Harm reduction drug education and strategies (i.e safer injecting information)
  • Opioid overdose prevention and education

Mental Health

  • Screen for mental health
  • Assessments include a mental health component
  • Suicide risk assessment
  • Relationship with Mental Health ACT: consultation and liaison advice
  • Staff have mental health training
  • Partnerships with mental health services
  • Mental Health Specialist (i.e. Psychiatrist, Psychologist)

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

  • Staff undertake Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness training
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in-reach to service (i.e. Aboriginal Liaison Officer)
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff (i.e. Aboriginal Liaison Officer position)

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)

  • Access to interpreter services
  • Partnerships with CALD services

Tobacco Management

  • Smokefree
  • Screen for tobacco use (i.e. Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence)
  • Provide tobacco brief interventions
  • Provide repeated or ongoing support and/or counselling for smoking cessation
  • Provide access to subsidised or free nicotine replacement therapies
  • Provide access to GPs/medical officers to prescribe NRT patches or other smoking cessation pharmacotherapies
  • Service has a workplace tobacco management policy
  • NRT Clinician


Rent & Fees: No cost

Others: Support can be provided to access Centrelink and there is an exemption from requirement to be looking for work with Centrelink while engaged in program

Staff available

  • Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Addiction Medicine Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Smoking cessation worker

Help for Families & Carers

  • Information and education offered to families and carers

Last Updated on April 2019

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