Drug Addiction Counselling Services in Calgary

If you are here, chances are that you are recognizing you have a problem with drugs (of one kind or many) or you are connected with someone who does. Taking this step of considering support is a tremendous one so congratulations on making it here and starting to explore drug counselling.

The short story

Drug counselling is available at Sana Psychological for those unsure if they have an issue with drugs, those who know they have an issue and are starting to explore treatment, as well as those who have been in long-term recovery. Support is also available for family members and loved ones who are currently being impacted by another person’s unhealthy relationship with substance use. Treatment can be short-term (3-6 months) or long-term (6+ months) depending on needs and preference. Typically, long-term support is recommended as Addiction involving drugs is a chronic condition and impacts many other aspects of health. However, if this is not possible then we will work to provide you with coping strategies and points of reflection that you can carry forward. The initial session or two involves background information gathering to get to know you, your challenges, and strengths. Recommendations and strategies will be provided along the way and collaboratively we will discuss treatment goals and general plan. Cost is $200/session and these appointments can be accessed in person or by phone or video. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment.

The long story

How do you know if you or a loved one has a problem?

It can be difficult to sort out if drug use is unhealthy or has crossed the line into Addiction. This is not something that you have to figure out on your own. Remember, you are not a trained healthcare professional with experience in making such diagnoses and, even if you are, doing so with yourself or in your personal life is much different than doing it with others. Let Sana Psychological help you determine where things are at and provide recommendations accordingly. This is an informal checklist to help you get a general idea of the extent of your or your loved one’s challenges with drug use. Read through the following list and answer whether the statement applies to you or not.

Some red flags of problematic alcohol use include:

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it would be a good time to start to explore drug counselling. These symptoms tend to appear after chronic substance use that has escalated in quantity, frequency, and had a progressive impact on your life over time. These symptoms rarely present themselves when people are engaged in minimal or prescribed substance use.

Common myth

Many people think that you only have Addiction involving drugs if you are using “street drugs” (i.e., illicit drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, or cocaine) and are living on the street. This is absolutely not the case as the face of Addiction involving drugs can be a person of any gender, sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomic status. Addiction is a genetic condition that is activated by environment, exposure, stress, and/or trauma and, therefore, it cuts across all demographic lines. Most people are genetically at risk, but may not experience activation or expression of this underlying vulnerability, whereas others do.

Addiction is Not a Choice

It is important for you to remember that you did not choose what is happening to you right now. A struggle with drug use does not define your personality or represent who you are, it is a symptom and a medical condition that it is important to seek treatment for. That is where drug counselling can help.

Treatment Approach

The initial 1-2 sessions will involve gathering as much background information as possible about you, including: Strengths, available coping network and tools, challenges, as well as information about your relationship with substances. Information is gathered to know about all parts of you, not just your relationship with drugs. Drug counselling is about much more than just your consumption of substances, as drug use typically starts to increase for a variety of reasons and there will be many areas of life that you can start to address to support a reduction in drug use, such as relationships, feelings processing, physical health, sleep hygiene, pain management, and more.

Paige Abbott has been trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and also incorporates elements of solution-focused therapy, motivational interviewing, and Twelve Step Facilitation into her sessions. Follow-up appointments generally involve a check-in to see presenting issues and immediate things that have come up that you may want to process, follow-up on any suggestions provided in past appointments to get an idea of progress as well as roadblocks that are coming up, followed by more in-depth exploration of challenges, patterns, and coping. Sessions are active and engaged as Paige likes to ask lots of questions and provide reflections, challenges, and psychoeducation along the way. At any point if the therapeutic approach or goals need to be changed, please speak up and this will be processed. Sessions come from a non-judgmental, compassionate, empathetic place. We are here to support you in doing different and being different.


Sessions are offered in person in Calgary, Alberta or by using Technology Assisted Counselling which can consist of phone or video sessions depending on need and preference. Cost is $200/session. Sessions are available to anyone who is in the province of Alberta at the time of appointment as this is Paige Abbott’s jurisdiction of licensure. Payment options include cash, credit card, e-transfer, and direct billing with a number of different insurance carriers.

Drug counselling can be short or long-term, depending on your needs. Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological, prefers to meet with people over a longer period of time (6+ months) to ensure sustainability and maintenance of progress as problematic drug use tends to ebb and flow. If this does not work for your needs, that is okay too. We will do as much work as we can in the available sessions to get you building a healthy recovery plan that you can tailor as needed. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment.

For loved ones

Drug counselling may also involve concerned family members or friends who have been impacted. They may come in individually for their own support and/or join some sessions or parts of sessions with the individual who has challenges with drugs. If you are a family member reading this and hoping your loved one will change but you are not sure if they are ready, I would encourage you to come in for yourself to look at your own health and recovery plan. Change in any member of a relational unit creates change for the whole unit, so perhaps change can start with you. Even if you are feeling that your personal changes are not having an impact on your loved one, it will provide you the strength, resources, and ability to cope with an extremely difficult, draining, and challenging situation.

The Many Faces of Addiction Involving Drugs

Below are some quick examples to show you the diversity of people who can develop issues with drugs, as well as the diversity of the issues themselves.

Fran: Started using prescribed opiates after a routine surgery and found her consumption increasingly went up and she believed she could no longer live without these substances. Eventually her doctor stopped prescribing her the medication at the dose she felt she required and she sought to supplement her supply on the street.

Joe: Is a young adult who was introduced to drugs at parties during his teenage years. His friends seemed to move away from recreational drug use but his progressed.

Samantha: Is a married mother of three kids who started using cocaine to manage her weight as she has struggled with life-long body image and food-related issues.

Lance: Is a healthcare provider who started using opioids to relax after difficult shifts and cope with some of the past traumatic things he has been exposed to at work. He found himself taking substances from work and has recently been found out.

The Recovery Journey

For most, the journey of recovery with alcohol Addiction involves an initial detoxification period.

Sometimes medical support is required for this detoxification. Though this detoxification is not fatal or life-threatening, it can be extremely uncomfortable and may be difficult to go through without medical support. External referrals and recommendations can be provided for this, as well you can ask your family doctor or medical professional for support. If you do not feel ready for detoxification, there is still lots that you can start exploring and changing in your life, which can help increase motivation and readiness to start stepping back from drug use.

During and after this period of detoxification, recovery action will be occurring. This can mean an exploration of underlying patterns and vulnerabilities, getting to understand triggers, identify other areas where compulsive or addictive behaviour may be active, as well as starting to explore and spend time developing relationship with self. Relationships will continue during this time but may look different as you start to detach from environments and people who bring with them a higher risk of exposure to drugs and triggers. The first 3-6 months of recovery will be a period of tremendous growth and feeling; it is often uncomfortable and is a vulnerable time where the likelihood of relapse is high. Withdrawal and change are uncomfortable, but they come with great benefit. After six months, changes are more established and have become routine so things feel less effortful. The lifelong work involves continued awareness of triggers, vulnerabilities, boundaries, and ongoing development of relationship with self.

Wherever you are at in this journey, it is an honour and a privilege for Sana Psychological to be a part of it.

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Any substance that has become problematic in your life falls under this umbrella. This includes prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, supplements, illicit drugs (cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, heroin, opioids), marijuana, nicotine, and alcohol. Anything that is mood and mind-altering and that is creating challenges for you can be addressed at Sana Psychological.
A: The first appointment will involve information gathering to understand the challenges you are experiencing, along with getting to know you as a person. Follow-up sessions will involve the establishment of a recovery plan that encompasses many different elements and learning more about triggers, relationships, and emotional regulation. Ongoing maintenance sessions are available to promote accountability and continue to learn more about how Addiction manifests and impacts your life. I draw from a variety of approaches, including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Twelve-Step Facilitation, and Emotion-Focused Therapy.
A: I will not be able to clearly answer that until I have met with you and gathered a more detailed understanding of what is going on. For some, the pursuit of abstinence is or becomes their therapeutic goal, whereas for others a harm reduction approach makes the most sense. As I am not medically trained, consulting a physician may be an important part of your recovery journey so that you have support with your medication and physical health needs.
A: Information that is shared in appointments is treated as confidential information. Written, express consent is required in order to share information with a third party. The only exceptions to this are if you are at risk of immediate harm to self, others, if there is discussion or disclosure of suspected or occurring harm, abuse, or neglect to a minor or dependent vulnerable person, or if a court subpoena is served to me. In these circumstances, I will discuss with you what information will be shared, with who, and for what purpose. In most cases of Drug Addiction counselling, the work is done privately and it is up to you who you disclose to.
A: Yes. Everybody is at risk for problematic substance use and most people are at some degree of risk of Addiction. Most of the clients I work with are intelligent, capable, successful individuals who also have Addiction of many manifestations, including with drugs. There is no shame if this fits the description of yourself. I hope that you will take the step of seeking help to make some changes in your life and maximize your potential.
A: We will explore available resources to support you with your medical needs. With anything that cannot be supported in an outpatient counselling environment, options will be recommended and provided for you, if requested and needed. Some people are already quite familiar with the available resources. I also like to mention that I do not have any special privileges, “ins” or relationships with any facilities so you will be responsible for follow through with these resources as I cannot take this step for you.
A: No! Counselling can be helpful during acute crises but is also very helpful when life is going pretty well. People learn tools and are accountable for being proactive with their health efforts which set them up well for stability in future. Anyone at any time, especially if they’re open and interested, can benefit from counselling.

A: Yes. Direct billing is available with most major insurers, including Alberta Blue Cross. Direct billing is not currently available for psychological services with SunLife or Manulife. You can see a list of insurance providers with who we can direct bill with here. It is the client’s responsibility to understand their policy and the total coverage available.

A: Sana Psychological is the solo private practice of Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist.
A: It is $200/50-minute appointment. This is the rate for all services, including in-person, virtual, phone, individual, joint, and hypnotherapy sessions. In addition to direct billing, cash, credit card, and e-transfer are acceptable payments.
A: I work Tuesdays-Fridays with appointments at 9, 10, 11am and 1, 2, and 3pm. I do not work evenings or weekends.
A: Yes, I am accepting new clients. Waiting times for the first appointment vary depending on a number of factors. If the wait is too long for you, then it is recommended you continue to search for a provider whose scheduling suits your needs.
A: I am comfortable with appropriate self-disclosure. I’m happy to let you know that I have been a Registered Psychologist since 2009 and my educational background is in Counselling Psychology. I always knew that I wanted to work directly with people in a counselling capacity and that’s why I pursued that degree. I am an introvert, my Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ and I identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (you can look up any of these terms if they are unfamiliar to you). In my personal life, I am married and have one daughter. I value work-life balance (hence the reason I do not work Mondays, evenings or weekends). I use this time to look after myself, house, and family. I enjoy physical activity, time outdoors, playing games, meditating, journaling, reading, home décor, and real estate.