About Amethyst Ottawa

About Amethyst

Amethyst offers free alternative addiction services to women-identified and gender-diverse individuals in the Ottawa region and is committed to working with diverse and marginalized folks. Our philosophy is grounded in the feminist belief that experiences with alcohol, drugs, and gambling cannot be separated from our experiences and status as women-identified and gender-diverse individuals. We make direct links between inequality and the various forms of violence, and substance use and/or problem gambling. Amethyst provides group and individual day counselling services and is an officially bilingual organization.

Amethyst aspires to equality and justice and is a health service concerned with prevention as well as direct service and work toward changing unjust social structures that place folks at risk of addiction. We address and communicate the ways in which addiction affects well-being and why social change in necessary.

Amethyst is a unionized collective and was founded in 1979. Visit Our history for more detailed information. You may also review our Reports to the Community.

Our approach

Founded in 1979, Amethyst is one of the only free long-term outpatient treatment services available in Ontario, Amethyst’s approach to treatment and recovery is grounded in the belief that experiences of trauma, marginalization, and mental health cannot be separated from our experiences of addiction. Our aim is to help all those in the Ottawa community understand and address the links that may exist between substance use and/or problem gambling, and the systems and structures that impact our daily lives.

We are committed to changing these unjust structures that disproportionately impact women and gender-diverse folks across Ottawa, and to providing a safer space for people to discuss how their addiction may intersect with their experiences of racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, sexism, etc.

Our belief is that recovery is more sustainable when we allow folks space to examine all factors that can be rooted in substance use and/or gambling. Since its inception, Amethyst has understood that mental health and addictions will often go hand-in-hand and that treating the two simultaneously is essential for many people. Similarly, we understand that when trauma underlies addiction, we need to provide space for the trauma to be explored and understood.

And as always, our aim is to help our community members, individually and together, to understand and address the factors that affect our health and well-being.

Visit our Programs and Services page for more information.

Our history

Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre was founded in 1979 after a group of concerned community members identified the need for services that addressed the unique needs of women who used substances. Amethyst was the first addiction treatment centre of its kind, in that the services provided incorporated a gender-based analysis to recognize the specific ways in which women experience substance use and addiction. Since that time, Amethyst has evolved through many incarnations to meet the ever-changing needs of our community and has expanded to a treatment center that offers a gender-based understanding of addiction to all women-identified and gender diverse folks, expanding the number of safer addiction treatment options for all.

Highlights of Amethyst’s history include:

  • the incorporation of prevention work (Health Promotion) to provide a more complete continuum of care to individuals and families in their own communities in Ottawa, thereby reducing barriers to service.
  • the establishment of a satellite location in Kanata to offer services in the western communities of Ottawa, including rural areas.
  • the shift towards a “modified collective” model of organization governance, allowing for our Staff and Board to share in the management of Amethyst.
  • the establishment of a designated Francophone Treatment Program to provide quality service to Francophones in Ottawa, with the full certification as a bilingual health agency in 2021.
  • the establishment of a Sexual Abuse Support Program that helps folks explore the links between their experiences of childhood sexual abuse and addiction.
  • the establishment of a Problem Gambling Program in both English and French to respond to the growing demand for trauma-informed gambling treatment.
  • the establishment of more specialized services for clients who are pregnant or parenting.
  • the ongoing work of modifying our understanding of gender-based treatment and feminism to better suit the needs of trans, non-binary and gender-diverse folks, acknowledging the specific issues that come with historically being a “women’s only” treatment centre.
  • the establishment of Amethyst as an organization that provides harm-reduction support and therapy as well as abstinence, supporting a wider variety of treatment options.
  • the provision of online individual and group programming during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift toward a hybrid model of services.

We cherish the roots that allowed Amethyst to begin serving our community, and we also see the ongoing need to adapt our programming to reach our most vulnerable community members. We commit ourselves to offering an evidence-based, affirming, anti-oppressive and non-judgmental addiction service in our community.

Partnerships and funding

Amethyst is funded primarily by Ontario Health. We also receive funding for a small percentage of our programing from the United Way of Ottawa. As is the case with most social service agencies though, we also rely on the generosity of individuals and our larger community to support us in building up our services.

To continue to meet the needs of our community, we also work in partnership with various community organizations. For example, we are continually working in partnership with community health and resource centres, as well as organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association and Artswell. For a list of community organizations we partner with or refer too, please click here.

Amethyst has also received several grants since 2020. We are grateful to have received generous support from:

  • Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, Resilient Communities Fund
  • City of Ottawa’s Social Service Relief Fund; and Emergency Bus Transportation Funding
  • Ottawa Community Foundation’s Emergency Community Support Fund
  • PSAC Social Justice Fund

We would like to give special thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding a portion of our website re-design.

If you would like to contribute financially to support our organization, please visit our Donations page.