Licensing & Accreditation
AARC operates in a clearly defined health care environment which monitors our program in the public interest. AARC has also sought additional external accreditation to strengthen our procedures, given the vulnerability of our clients.
AARC is licensed as a Residential Addiction Treatment Service Provider under the Mental Health Services Protection Act in the Province of Alberta.
Oversight by Alberta Child and Youth Services through Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority
AARC, as an organization, and as individuals working with adolescents and their families, are as accountable as every individual in this province to Alberta Child and Youth Services. The Child, Youth & Family Enhancement Act states that every Albertan has a responsibility under the act to ensure that all children and adolescents are safe from abuse of any kind.
AARC honours that responsibility and have involved Alberta Child and Youth Services when there have been allegations of abuse or known abuses of any person receiving treatment through our program. We have had several meetings with the authorities from Alberta Child and Youth Services regarding our programs in a spirit of cooperation and transparency.
You can contact Calgary Region Child and Family Services here.
Canadian Accreditation Council of Human Services
AARC uses an external accreditation service to give an independent evaluation of our governance, practices and outcomes. AARC has a contract with Canadian Accreditation Council of Human Services (CAC).
AARC is fully accredited by the CAC. Accreditation has been granted for:
- AARC Recovery Homes (Host Family Living Program with Addiction Designation)
- AARC Day Treatment (Treatment Centre Program with Mental Health and Addiction Designation)
- AARC Community Services (Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment Program with Addiction Designation)
- Governance and Management Accreditation
The Canadian Accreditation Council (CAC) is a non-profit organization that has itself been accredited by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua), the leading international health care evaluation program. You can find out more about CAC here.
Charity registration number 132199480RR0001
The Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre is formally known as “AARC Adolescent Recovery Centre” and is incorporated under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act.
As a Not-For-Profit Corporation registered under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act and a Non-Profit Alberta company registered to carry on business in the province, AARC is subject to and adheres to the laws governing such organizations. We are recognized under the Core Health Care category by Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate.
You can donate to AARC here.
A safe, secure and controlled environment
Expectations about AARC’s centre vary considerably; almost everyone is surprised by what they find here. The first thing they notice is that there are no dorms, even though AARC is a semi-residential treatment. That’s because clients stay in recovery homes, hosted by the parents of clients further along in the program. Clients only attend the centre during the day.
The environment is best described as mixed use. A tour of the facility will reveal indoor and outdoor fitness areas, activity areas, large and small meeting rooms. In addition AARC has a dining area that is serviced by its very own chef.
Structured and supervised
Each day at the centre is highly structured and under constant supervision. Clients at all levels are responsible for the cleaning of the building and dining areas. The majority of the time, clients are engaged in a variety of group and individual therapy sessions as well as AA meetings.
What AARC is not is a conventional residential home or halfway house. AARC is much more than the centre alone. It is also the network of recovery homes hosted by the parents of clients moving through the later stages of the program; what we call semi-residential treatment. It is also the community of alumni as well as AA and Al Anon groups that support clients and their families once they officially graduate.
Abstinence is key
The key feature is that clients cannot leave the centre, or the recovery home, without the express permission of staff and parents. Since abstinence is key to the success of the program, any attempt to return to the client’s previous, drug-associated lifestyle cannot be permitted. In the short-term, clients are often frustrated. In the long-term, they are thankful for the restrictions placed on them.
Dr. Lori Hogg, M.Sc., MD, FRCPC
Independent psychiatric services
Dr. Lori Hogg is AARC’s consulting child and adolescent psychiatrist. Dr. Hogg received her MD from the University of Calgary in 1989. As a psychiatrist, she is able to provide consultations to clients and families, as well as prescribe medical treatment for clients if necessary. Dr. Hogg often maintains long-term care for those clients with mental health needs and even extends this relationship after clients graduate the AARC program.
Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, MD, FRCPC
Independent psychiatric services
Dr. Elizabeth Wallace has provided clinical consultations to staff at AARC since 2016, and has served as Chair of the AARC Clinical Committee since 2017. Dr. Wallace has practiced as a psychiatrist for the past 28 years, specializing in adult psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She received her BScN from the University of Alberta and her MD degree from the University of Calgary, before going on to train in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Wallace has a private practice, contributes to a group psychotherapy program through AHS, and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Calgary.
Joel Mader, M.Ed.
Joel Mader is a registered psychologist in private practice at Paradigm Psychology, a clinic located in Alberta Canada, where he specializes in the treatment and assessment of addictive disorders. He also serves as a clinical consultant for the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (Alberta, Canada). He received his B.A in psychology and Master of Education (Counselling Psychology) specializing in addictions and mental health from the University of Lethbridge. He was previously a research associate in the faculty of nursing at the University of Calgary where he assisted in the development and delivery of a study that followed a sample of Canadian University students through the national legalization of recreational cannabis. He also assisted in the development and delivery of University of Calgary’s Cannabis Café, a harm reduction initiative which promotes lower-risk cannabis use guidelines among post-secondary students.
Substance Abuse Assessment
Every client admitted to AARC’s program undergoes a Substance Abuse Assessment.
Working together to fight addiction
AARC works with many community organizations, helping with adolescent addiction problems across the City of Calgary and southern Alberta.
Calgary Food Bank
Calgary Board of Education
Calgary Police Service
Alberta Health Services
ALIGN Association of Community Services
Calgary Police Chief's Community Service Award
On June 8, 2017, the talented AARC staff were honoured with the Chief's Award of Exceptional Recognition for Community Service by Chief Constable Roger Chaffin. This award recognizes members of the Police Service and citizens of Calgary who have demonstrated meritous conduct in support of the Service and their community.
Calgary Council for Addiction and Mental Health (CCAMH)
AARC is a member of CCAMH, a newly formed voluntary organization of 30 non-profit organizations and eight divisions of Alberta Health Services. The Council shares skills and resources to enhance recovery rates and to reach more people who need addiction services. Find out more here.
AARC supports clients in their recovery by linking with local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Al-Anon groups. AARC hosts bi-weekly meetings at the Centre.
Independent board of directors
AARC has a volunteer Board of Directors which meets each quarter of the year and as needed.
AARC’s strategic initiatives are reported on at every board meeting. Special meetings may be convened to address matters that require more time than is available in a regular board meeting, including expansion plans, risk management, and organizational development. Current employees may not serve on the Board of Directors. Persons who are related to an employee may serve, on the conditions that they will disclose that relationship and will not participate in any discussions, decisions or votes on matters relating to that employee. The current board based on predetermined qualifications selects new board members. In that regard, current or former clients or their family members are eligible to serve, as are former employees and their families. All applicants for board membership are accountable to AARC’s policies and procedures. Governing board members are not allowed to accept honorariums except in instances where it is specifically permitted by board bylaws. For example, board members may be remunerated for services provided outside of their board roles, assuming there is no conflict of interest. In most instances, staff who are paid honoraria for participating in events during regular working hours will be required to contribute to contribute the honorarium to the charity.
Board of Directors
AARC's Board of Directors
J. Robert (Bob) Nelson
Dr. Elizabeth Wallace
In the beginning
Long-term treatment options for youth suffering from substance abuse and addiction were rare before 1990 in Alberta or Canada. In response to the needs of youth and families for intensive help, the Government of Alberta funded families to attend treatment in the United States. One of the facilities that treated a number of Alberta families was an organization called KIDS of Bergen County in New Jersey.
In an effort to address the shortage of long-term treatment options the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC) was established in Calgary in 1990 as a non-profit Alberta company, with a grant from the Government of Alberta and a donation from the Rotary Club of Calgary. Under the guidance of AARC’s first board led by Chuck Simpson, a clinical team was hired to develop the model and its policies and procedures. In 1992 the current building at Forge Road SE was leased and renovated so that the first clients could be admitted.
Dr. Dean Vause
Dean Vause first became aware of the destructive impact of drug and alcohol abuse on students during his career as a high school counsellor. His search for practical help for troubled students and their families in Saskatchewan led him to investigate the many treatment options available in North America. In 1989 Vause began his PhD at the Union Institute of Cincinnati. In that same year he worked briefly for KIDS of Bergen County in New Jersey, where many Canadians were being treated. There he witnessed a residential regime that failed the children in its care; he left after a few months, disillusioned by KIDS’ process which compromised the rights and dignity of young people, and returned to Canada.
In August of 1990 Vause was consulting for the Kaiser Foundation in Vancouver when he was hired by AARC as the Clinical Director to use his unique experience to help build the treatment model.
In November of 1991 Vause was promoted by AARC’s board to the position of Executive Director.
Treating adolescents is complex
Despite AARC’s success, the treatment of young people with addiction is bound to be controversial, since almost no teenager will volunteer for treatment, especially long-term, semi-residential care. Many of AARC’s clients are heavily addicted, some are violent, some have been imprisoned, and many have mental health issues. In response to changes in legislation, new research and best practices, the AARC model is constantly being refined but consists of these significant elements:
- use of AA’s 12 Step model
- an insistence on lifelong abstinence as the only defence against addiction
- use of peer counsellors actively engaged in recovery to provide hope and guidance to clients
- treatment of comorbidity (mental health) issues faced by clients
- providing equal access to cost effective treatment through a subsidized funding model
- an insistence that the client’s family all commit to recovery
- semi-residential care provided by senior client’s families in their own homes
- continuation of education or employment during later stages of treatment
- providing ongoing support through aftercare services and a vibrant alumni community
- dedication to providing proactive solutions to addiction through our community intervention and education programs
The AARC facility has treated over 630 adolescents and families, with high levels of success. Success for AARC means sobriety, reconnection with family and return to school or work.
Program Research and Outcomes
Research shows strong evidence that AARC's treatment model is an effective intervention that promotes abstinence from drugs and alcohol among a sizeable portion of addicted youth.
Understanding AARC’s fees
Ask for help with costs
AARC is committed to making treatment affordable. The majority of AARC clients receive a subsidy provided by donations, grants and fundraising initiatives. Eligibility for help is based on need.
Your family’s daily fee rate will be assessed following the completion of a pre-assessment. Financial verifications may be required. All information and documents that you provide will be held in strict confidence.
The average duration of treatment at AARC is about 10 months, or 300 days. The actual duration of treatment will vary based on your family’s progress through the program.
As you can see, donations are vital to the provision of our service to families in need. If you would like to help, you can make a donation here.
Helping you to find the right treatment
AARC understands that our treatment program may not be right for you. Here are some other organizations that might be able to help you and your family.
Detox under PChAD
(Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Act) - 10 days involuntary treatment
Alpha House (Calgary)
Residential Centres (Accepting Adolescents)
Cedars at Cobble Hill (Cobble Hill, BC)
Edgewood (Nanaimo, BC)