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10 Questions to Ask Every Addiction Treatment Provider

At EHN-Canada we say that “the right treatment can change everything.” What do we mean by “the right treatment?” We mean evidence based treatment founded on the principles of scientific inquiry; we mean treatment that has been evaluated by an external licensing body or Accreditation agency; we mean treatment that has conducted valid outcome studies using a standardized tool accepted by experts in the field.

Selecting the right treatment program for yourself or your loved should be based on an educated and informed assessment of options. Unfortunately, a number of addiction treatment providers engage in pseudo-scientific clinical practices, have no valid evidence based interventions, use questionable research as “proof” of their outcomes and are not accredited or licensed in the Province in which they operate. BEWARE of these issues and please use this list of questions when choosing a treatment provider to ensure quality, effectiveness and the best fit for your needs.

1. What type of accreditation or licensing does the program have?

National accreditation programs (such as Accreditation Canada or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)) assure that very high quality standards for clinical treatment are in place. They verify that the facility is providing “best practice” service and evidence-based treatment that research has shown to be effective. Provincial licensing is not the same as accreditation since provinces vary widely in their licensing requirements.

At EHN-Canada:

All EHN-Canada treatment centers are fully licensed in the Province in which they operate, and all are accredited by either Accreditation Canada, CARF or in Quebec by CQA.

Surprisingly, many addiction treatment providers throughout Canada are not accredited and the industry is “unregulated.” This means that there is no legal requirement that providers need to have accreditation in order to operate. Accrediting agencies are critical in making sure rigorous standards exist for quality of care, organizational performance, and clinical outcomes. Making sure facilities meet these standards should be a “minimum requirement” of any organization offering addiction treatment.

2. What credentials and licenses does the program’s clinical staff hold?

Professional credentials and clinical licenses ensure that staff providing treatment to patients and their families meets nationally recognized standards for professional practice. Some of the credentials held by addiction professionals include, CACCF (The Canadian Addiction Counselors Certification Federation) certified addictions counselor), BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) and Registered Psychotherapist.

Because the co-occurrence of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is often accompanied by a mental health concern, it is critical that there are members of the team that hold advanced degrees and training in mental health. Here it is important to seek out programs that include Masters Level Social Workers (MSWs), Masters Level and Registered Psychotherapists, Clinical Counselors and PhD Psychologists.

Because many patients needing treatment for SUD will require medical withdrawal management or “detox,” it is critical that the facility you choose has extensive medical coverage provided by registered nurses and physicians specializing in Addiction Medicine.

At EHN-Canada:

EHN-Canada’s interdisciplinary care teams across the country consist of fully licensed and credentialed addiction counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, physicians and registered nurses, family specialists, spiritual care professionals, social workers, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and wellness specialists. In addition, we have highly trained specialists in the treatment of Psychological Trauma (PTSD), Compulsive Behaviors (Sex Addiction), Eating Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD).

3. Have there been studies to measure the effectiveness of the program’s addiction treatment methods?

A treatment center should be measuring how effective their services are as well as using research-based methods.

At EHN-Canada:

EHN-Canada is one of the few addiction and mental health treatment providers in the Country to have extensive academic affiliations.  Through an endowed fellowship in Addiction Medicine through the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, we look at outcomes in a scientifically disciplined way. We use validated outcome measurement as well as a standardized “client satisfaction surveys,” in order to continuously improve the services and care we provide across all of our programs in Canada.

EHN-Canada also collaborates on projects with highly regarded academic health care facilities including CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Our facility in Montreal, Quebec has an affiliation with the Montreal Jewish General Hospital and has published papers jointly with the University of Quebec.

4. What is the patient-to-counselor ratio?

When choosing a treatment provider, it is important to determine if the facility is staffed to meet the needs of patients as well as their level of acuity. It is important to maintain a patient-to-staff ratio that will ensure people receive the attention and time they need in order to address their SUD and related mental health issues.

At EHN-Canada:

EHN-Canada maintains smaller than average group sizes in order to ensure optimal sharing and attention is paid to individualized issues in group therapy. In addition, all clients receive one-on-one personal sessions by their primary counselor at least once per week. Our programs use an inter-professional approach to treatment, which means each patient gets highly-specialized care from a range of care professionals during their stay.

5. Is medical withdrawal management (“detox”) offered as a part of inpatient treatment?

“Detox” is often a critical first step to the treatment process. Integrated detox services delivered by the same treatment team in the same facility is essential to ensuring continuity of care and optimal outcomes. Comprehensive, medically supervised detox ensures that patients are medically supported during the uncomfortable and often dangerous process and are stabilized before beginning psychological and behavioral therapies.

At EHN-Canada:

Upon admission to all EHN-Canada inpatient facilities across the country, all patients undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation of their physical health and receive medical detox services, as necessary. We are very experienced and well trained in standardized detox protocols for alcohol and all substances, including barbiturates and opiates.

7. Does the program offer an individualized treatment program?

Each person’s needs are unique and require an individualized treatment plan based on specific experiences, medical and psychological issues and behavioral history. The plan of care must consider the patient’s and family’s input and include a holistic appreciation of the biological, psychological and social factors underlying the addiction and related mental health issues.

At EHN-Canada:

EHN-Canada is committed to providing personalized treatment plans, specific to each individual’s unique physical, psychological and spiritual needs. Our inter-professional treatment team all contribute to the plan of care to ensure that each of the patient’s issues are addressed with the best expertise needed to deliver evidence based care. This process also includes clinical interventions for co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

8. Does the program address a full range of needs to help the people presenting with medical, psychological and social issues get well and stay well?

Treating patients in a holistic manner, addressing mental health, physical health and spiritual health, will lead to greater success in recovery. Indeed, addressing all issues and how they relate to one another is essential in preparing patients to meet the challenges post treatment and prevent relapse.

At EHN-Canada:

At EHN-Canada, each person benefits from a comprehensive assessment that provides the inter-professional team specific areas of concern to focus on. The team, which consists of addiction counselors, psychologists, physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, family specialists, nutritionists, and wellness specialists works with each patient to ensure that all aspects of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders are addressed.

9. VERY IMPORTANT: What type of help is available for families?

It is important to understand that Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and related mental health issues have a huge impact on family and friends and that these support systems must be engaged in the treatment process in order to support the patient in getting well and staying well. Understanding the complex nature of addiction and the psychological and behavioral aspects of the disease helps families heal and is critically important for building a healthy support system for patients in early recovery returning home.

At EHN Canada:

EHN-Canada has long understood that addiction affects not only the patient but their family as well. To help with the healing process, EHN-Canada offers a unique family program called Insite where family members receive education, guidance and support. Insite is available to anyone, even those who do not have a family member in treatment at any of our facilities and programs across Canada. We also offer the children’s program called BOUNCE BACK that provides education and support for girls and boys ages 7-16 who are faced with the challenges and difficulties of addiction in their families.

10. Is there ongoing support and aftercare when primary residential treatment complete?

Primary or residential treatment alone is not sufficient to maintain Recovery for most patients. Responsible discharge planning and a comprehensive aftercare plan are essential elements to a successful process. An aftercare regimen that includes evidence-based Relapse Prevention as well as participation in some type of support group is crucial. A good treatment program will actively help the patient move into the next appropriate level of care.

At EHN-Canada:

EHN-Canada recognizes that primary or residential treatment for SUD is only the beginning of the process to sustained Recovery. EHN-Canada patients are all given Relapse Prevention Plans which include detailed, specific and comprehensive steps and actions to be taken to stay well. Patients are set up with scheduled appointments for follow up with therapists and medical personnel in their home communities. People, including families can also stay connected through Alumni meetings, service opportunities, retreats, workshops and other special events.

In conclusion, we know that choosing an alcohol or drug treatment program can be an overwhelming and difficult process. A few more helpful tips:

  • Research online. Look at the treatment center’s website and social media presence, read reviews, and learn what others are saying about their treatment experience.
  • Call the center. Was the admissions team friendly and helpful? Were they able to answer your questions?
  • Schedule a tour, or see if the center’s website features an online tour of their facilities.
  • Explore inpatient and outpatient treatment programs available across the country at EHN-Canada. If you’re considering one of our facilities, call us today.

Please note, The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) is a nonprofit professional society of top treatment providers in the United States. NAATP supports members by providing clinical and operational resources as well as law and policy advocacy. NAATP has published a Guide to Treatment Program Selection. Please see the link:

We Can Help You

If you would like to learn more about the treatment programs provided by EHN Canada, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us at one of the numbers below. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.

  • 1-866-926-4196 for Bellwood Health Services in Toronto, ON
  • 1-587-602-0266 for EHN Sandstone, in Calgary, AB
  • 1-866-946-4806 for Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC
  • 1-866-965-4345 for Clinique Nouveau Départ in Montreal, QC
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