The AARC Program
The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC) is a long-term treatment program for chemically dependent adolescents and their families.
Success at AARC is a graduate who is clean and sober, back in school or working, and reunited with his or her family.
The program is often the treatment of last resort for young people who have been in jail, in front of the court, suicidal, violent, in psychiatric wards, living on the streets, in other treatment programs, and/or removed from their home.
The AARC program offers comprehensive assessment, treatment and aftercare, based on the concepts of:
- Twelve Step Recovery models of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous (AA/NA);
- Positive peer influence;
- Group, family and individual therapy; and
- Use of Recovery Homes
The AARC program is based on the fundamental that addiction is a disease. Adolescent addiction is defined as a psycho-social, genetic, chronic, progressive and relapsing disease affecting every dimension of the adolescent and their family members’ lives.
The AARC program provides progressive, structured stages of treatment from primary recovery through intermediate and advanced recovery. The stages of treatment correlate directly with the recovery steps of AA and NA. As the adolescents progress through the treatment process, they are assisted in developing and expected to present increasing levels of self-awareness, self-esteem, family cooperation, motivation and commitment towards recovery. Progression through treatment is dependent upon individual needs and the ability to acquire habilitative, non-chemical coping skills.
At the beginning of treatment, parents are often unable to provide the structure required for the care, control, and safety of their child during recovery. Therefore, the client resides in a Recovery Home during the first phase of treatment, which may last six months. Recovery Homes are the homes of families of clients who are further along in their recovery process.
The average length of treatment is 12 months. In addition, the adolescents and families are encouraged to commit to a six-month optional aftercare program.
Once a referral is made, the assessment process determines the extent of the adolescent’s chemical dependency. Youth who meet the admission criteria receive a full diagnostic assessment to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment fees are assessed based on a family’s ability to pay.
AARC is distinctively different in Canada
AARC is unlike any program in Canada. It is long-term (averaging about one year), built on a solid foundation of research augmented by clinical expertise. It is open to all, regardless of income level. AARC works because it blends dedication and compassion with no-nonsense, uncompromising, honest confrontation, expecting clients and parents to give as much as they get.
Here is why AARC is Successful
Integrated family treatment; parents and siblings
Youth addiction damages families as well as addicts themselves. AARC treats the family as well as the individual, requiring parents and siblings to take part in recovery. AARC empowers parents who feel hopeless and stuck, helping the family as a whole. AARC is home for teen addicts – a place they take pride in and a place where they and their families recover.
Peer Counsellors have been there
Addicts are adept at manipulating and conning others. But they can’t con a con and AARC’s peer counselors are graduates of the program. They know all the lines and have heard all the excuses – they’ve used them. All peer counselors are required to furthering their education while working at AARC. Many have degrees, giving them a powerful blend of real like experience, clinical expertise and academic training.
Discipline through love
AARC is a tough program – but it’s also caring and loving, totally centered on helping addicts and their families recover. The confrontational, therapeutic process looks at the past, accepts the present and prepares for the future.
Staying in recovery homes
AARC is not a residential facility. Adolescents do not live with their parents when entering treatment. Newcomers stay with families of clients further along in recovery and, as treatment progresses, will themselves host newcomers to AARC.
Taking 12 steps of recovery
The 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon help keep adolescents and their families on the path of recovery. These programs become the recovering addict’s “owner’s manuals” for life.
Addiction is chronic. AARC believes addicts must refrain from using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives. AARC does not ascribe to philosophies of “harmful reduction” (what addicts call “marijuana maintenance”).
AARC Learning Centre
Education is vital for job and career success. AARC’s year-round, full-time, on-site classroom, with two teachers from the Calgary Board of Education who specialize in this clientele, helps teen addicts prepare to re-enter the formal education system (high school or post-secondary) after AARC.
Accessible to all in need
No-one is turned away from AARC because of an inability to pay. Families who cannot afford full AARC fees of $150/day pay are assessed fees based on their ability to pay. Remaining fees are covered through AARC fundraising activity and government support.
A six-month aftercare program provides ongoing support for graduates and enables them to help support clients who are still in treatment.
AARC will not turn any client away because of their inability to pay the full cost of treatment. It is the policy of AARC to review each family’s financial situation in advance of treatment and assess fees on a sliding scale matched to family resources. Through this process we help families manage the financial obligation of treatment.
Pre-Assessment Services (Flat Fee)
Full Assessment Services (Flat Fee)
Treatment Fees (Per Day)
All families attending AARC for treatment are assessed a daily treatment fee that is paid monthly. AARC receives limited government funding. Our funding shortfall is covered by client fees, fundraising and the generosity of our donors. Fees are set using a sliding scale based on family income, debt and resources. Treatment at AARC lasts on average, nine to ten months. Families are encouraged to discuss and ask questions during the fee-setting process so that they fully understand that the fee set is appropriate and fair. AARC offers a choice of payment options for families.