Advanced practice Addictions Counsellors assist individuals and their families in the development of practical strategies to help themselves to reduce the harms associated with alcohol, substances, smoking, and gambling. Emphasis is given to the immediate needs and issues identified by the client and therapeutic approaches are matched accordingly in keeping with evidence-based practice.

As the designated problem gambling, gaming and technology use service agency for the District of Algoma providing care to individuals, couples, and families impacted by gambling.  The Clinic provides, gambling awareness and public education, consultation to other care providers, individual, family and group education, skill-building and therapy.

Addictions Medicine Consult Team (AMCT)

The AMCT supports both clients, staff and physicians within the hospital. This multidisciplinary team includes a Registered Addictions Service Worker, a Registered Nurse, and an Addictions Medicine Physician. AMCT works to meet clients where they are at when they present at the hospital to connect individuals to proper services.

  • Brief Motivational Interviewing
  • Harm reduction Education/Strategies
  • Withdrawal and Medication Therapy consults
  • Treatment/ Recovery Planning
  • Service Referrals
  • Discharge Planning
  • Family Support / Education

Rapid Access Addictions Medicine (RAAM) Clinic

The RAAM clinic is a Rapid Access Addictions Medicine clinic for people looking for help with substance use disorders. The RAAM clinic operates with a hub and spoke model. The main site is in Sault Ste. Marie with spoke sites throughout east and North Algoma. The providers at the clinic have experience treating people who are struggling with their substance use. Staff utilize a client-centred model based on evidence to provide compassionate care and quality service to clients at all stages of change. Based on your history and a clinical assessment, the RAAM clinic provider will make a diagnosis and together you will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Residential Withdrawal Management

Residential Withdrawal Management is a short-term service that provides a helpful, safe location for individuals 16 and older who are experiencing substance withdrawal, are intoxicated, or seeking help with relapse prevention. 24/7 care from our multidisciplinary team using a bio-psycho-social-spiritual model is available. Specific service components include referrals across the continuum of care, community support, group and Individual education on harm reduction, healthy coping, life skills, relapse prevention, etc., 1:1 support, assessments, medical care and monitoring, peer-support and self-help groups.

In-Home/Mobile Withdrawal Management

New- In-Home/Mobile Withdrawal Management bringing services and supports to the individual – whether that be in an individual’s home, the home of a family member, a shelter, a supportive recovery facility, or other places that a person is residing. This service is intended to increase access to community withdrawal management services, particularly for hard to service clients, including those located in rural and remote areas. Specifically, this service will provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals who are experiencing acute withdrawal from substances to withdraw from substances at home. Service may be provided in person or virtually across the region.

Safe Beds

Our Safe Beds are co-located throughout residential withdrawal management. These beds allow for a longer stay for people with mental health, addictions and justice system involvement. Care in this service mirrors that of residential withdrawal management.  Some of the Safe Beds require a direct referral from Police or MCRRT (Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team).

Concurrent Disorders

Concurrent Disorders care is available to those that are both in hospital and community who have substance use and/or gambling, gaming, or technology use issues and have a co-existing mental illness. Care includes confidential short-term counselling to bridge the gap between mental health & addictions treatment services, group support, assessment and treatment referrals, enhance collaborative mental health services within our community.

Concurrent Disorders Day Treatment – Pilot Program 

The Concurrent Disorders Day Treatment pilot program was created to offer low-barrier treatment to clients in the Algoma district struggling with concurrent mental health and addiction disorders.  A New Day, operates out of Sault Area Hospital (SAH) outpatient space, offers 5.5 hours of programming per day and clients have access to breakfast and lunch, recreational therapy, art therapy, the evidence-based therapies of CBT, DBT, Seeking Safety and individual counselling and case management.  The program is trauma-informed and uses a harm reduction approach to addiction.  The average length in the program is 6 weeks.

The evidence-based treatment methods include Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapies (DBT) which are supported, as modified for addictions issues, by the Royal Ottawa Hospital.  Other evidence-based components are seeking safety and coping with trauma as well as many mindfulness-based activities.  The structured therapies are delivered in group and individual formats and are designed to provide participants with the necessary skills to manage their substance use and mental health problems as well as meet their outlined goal for recovery. 

Assessments used include the GAINS, PHQ9, GAD7, Stages of Change (to meet criteria client must minimally be in the contemplative stage of change), and OPOC.  The PHQ9 is a symptom checklist that assesses the level of symptoms for depression and the GAD7 is a symptom checklist that assesses the level of symptoms for anxiety.  Both of these assessments are backed by empirical research and are shown to be valued and reliable tools in the assessment of symptoms of mental disorders. These assessments show an improvement in functioning and a decrease in depressive and anxiety symptoms by the end of the program.

The Ontario Perception of Care (OPOC) satisfaction survey is the satisfaction survey took utilized.  There are 5 domains measured and the Overall Experience average of 3.6 was realized for the first pilot.  

MH&A Services FAQ

AKA detox, different from a treatment centre, can be the first step in getting help for substance intoxication or dependence, information hub, symptom management for withdrawal, support/education for harm reduction, drug and alcohol-free zone.

Safe beds are an in-house treatment for up to 30 days for stabilization to divert from mental health inpatient admission or entry into the criminal justice system. Safe beds are designed for those with Mental Health and/or addiction needs that are suitable for non-medical intervention and can be supported in a community/home-like setting rather than in a hospital.

Currently, SAH has two ‘flex’ safe beds for those in a mental health/addictions crisis to divert from hospital or incarceration and support with housing needs- these referrals can come from anywhere in the community and those in care will receive support with mental health, care planning, housing etc.

There are also 4 mental health and justice safe beds that offer similar support however, the referrals must come from police or police/crisis and be suitable for diversion from inpatient hospital- these referrals can stay up to 30 days to stabilize and obtain a treatment plan/housing plan. It is a voluntary service – safe bed workers ally closely with probation and parole, community justice workers, and police services.

Medically supervised management of acute withdrawal, physician and nursing oversight- offering assessment and medications for symptom management, as well as the induction of anti-craving, withdrawal medication and opiate replacement therapy.

Compassionate care, client-centred, non-judgmental, harm-reduction, trauma-informed.

A Safe place for assessment, treatment planning, brief motivational counselling complimented by Medically supervised management of acute withdrawal, physician and nursing oversight- offering assessment and medications for symptom management, as well as the induction of anti-craving, withdrawal medication and opiate replacement therapy.

Currently, we can offer information/education and support over the phone. Recent funding enhancements are allowing for the recruitment of a full-time RN to support those appropriate for mobile/home-based withdrawal management.

MH&A Care/Referral Criteria - FAQ

Anyone who is 16 or older and experiencing a crisis related to their substance use. People who have no ID, people who are intoxicated, people in withdrawal, people wanting to avoid relapse, people with nothing in terms of belongings/”walked off the street”, people who aren’t sure if they are ready for treatment but want help anyways/have questions, people who feel they may be addicted to drugs including alcohol and prescription medications

  • Under the age of 16 is excluded
  • Patients who are not medically stable
  • Involuntary patients
  • Patients exhibiting acute mental health symptoms that may be causing a danger to themselves or others
  • Those presenting with significant, immediate risk of aggression, violence or other safety risks

Those with complicated medical concerns must be medically cleared/stabilized. Once stabilized, they are welcome to attend. Upon admission to care, close monitoring is required to ensure stabilization is sustained. If one’s health deteriorates beyond WMS/Safebeds scope, a transfer to a more intensive level of care (i.e. ED, hospital) is facilitated.

Addictions Care and Treatment - FAQ

Treatment can be complicated because there may be a range of psychological and physical effects that all need to be taken care of and there is no one treatment that fits all which can be overwhelming if they need several different health care practitioners (counselling, RAAM, psychologists, methadone clinics, groups, doctors/psychiatrists, etc.).

No one factor can predict if a person will develop an addiction, a combination of factors include biology (genetic predisposition, biochemical ethnicity, development), psychological (trauma, psychiatric/mental health, self-esteem) spiritual and social (family, relationships, societal influences.

Managing acute withdrawal is a key element of care. Treatment failures can stem from a lack of readiness, tools, supports, referred to by a program that does not fit their needs.

Not having the basics such as stable housing can be a large contributor.

Like all chronic health conditions, treatment is complex and often changing.

Additional Resources (Related Link/Community Partners etc.)

Where to get help in Sault Ste Marie:

Find Treatment Centres at Connex Ontario 

Canadian Mental Health Association Algoma – Mental Health and Addictions Services.

Email: information@cmhassm.com

Mail: 386 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 1Z1
Fax: 705-945-0261
Phone: 705-759-5989 or 1-855-366-1466

Additional Education CAMH https://www.camh.ca