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The main purposes of an assessment conducted by the Ottawa Addictions Access and Referral Services (OAARS) are to:
  • determine problem areas
  • investigate your past and present use of all substances and level of dependence on them
  • prepare a treatment plan
When you call our service, a counsellor will contact you within 48 to 72 hours and we will set an appointment time for you to come in and meet us so you can be assessed.
At your first visit, we gather basic information, such as your birth date and contact information. We also ask specific questions about your substance use, mental health, gambling activities and other general health issues. We use this information to help decide what services you may need.
Appointments usually take about an hour. They include intake information, assessment and referral planning.
When appropriate, we will work with other significant people in your life to develop your treatment plan, and with your consent, we may share the plan with other professionals or agencies.


We treat all of your information in a strictly confidential manner. Our counselors will explain clearly to you the rules around sharing your information with other partner agencies. No one will have access to your information without your consent. (Any exceptions to this rule will be explained to you in advance).

Your Treatment Plan

Treatment planning is an activity you will do with your counsellor—meaning the plan is created with your input. Your counsellor will explain all of the options available and give you the information you need to make a good decision. You can determine not only the order you want to do things in, but whether or not you want to move forward at all. Nothing happens without your consent.
Treatment goals can include both abstinence and/or harm reduction. Abstinence means you stop using a substance completely. Harm reduction involves planning to reduce the usage of substances that create the most harmful consequences for you. It can involve a variety of strategies, depending on your personal circumstances.