Stay in a drug-free, medically supported place with other young people for up to two weeks


Short-term residential support is usually called ‘youth residential withdrawal’. Some young people even call it “detox” but there is a bit more to it than that. This support type is where you can stay up to two weeks in a safe, drug and alcohol free space with other people similar age to you. Residential units are staffed around the clock so there is always a worker with you.


  • Support to be drug free for the time you are in the unit.
  • Medically supervised withdrawal (if necessary)
  • Strategies, education and support to meet your goals when you leave
  • Recreation activities including outings, music and art
  • Health therapies such as massage and acupuncture
  • Visits from family/friends (different units have different rules)


These units are often described as providing “intensive support”. That means there are always staff around. In fact you can’t actually come and go from this type of program without the supervision of staff or others as arranged. Having said that getting out of the unit and staying busy is usually part of a program.

Expect to see a doctor and or other medical staff on admission and you'll probably complete a really comprehensive health assessment.


This is one of the most intensive types of support from drug and alcohol services so it’s a good option for young people who:

  • Feel that their drug or alcohol use is really out of control.
  • Feel other areas of life are in crisis (housing, family support, physical and emotional health)
  • Don’t have any other safe drug-free places or much support they can rely on to help them try to go without drugs for a while
  • Who have tried controlling or quitting before at home or in the community but it has been hard

The video included with this article has been put together by YSAS is about one particular short term residential program but it gives a pretty good idea about how most of them run.