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Evidence to Improve Care

Unhealthy Alcohol Use and Alcohol Use Disorder

Care for People 15 Years of Age and Older

This quality standard addresses care for people 15 years of age and older with unhealthy alcohol use or alcohol use disorder (alcohol dependency, harmful alcohol use), across all health care settings.

The scope of the standard covers the screening, assessment, diagnosis, management, and treatment of alcohol use disorder. It addresses how to identify new or worsening symptoms of alcohol use disorder (withdrawal, tolerance, and cravings), and the support, treatment, and management of individuals with concurrent mental health disorders, substance use disorders, or other medical conditions.

Although this quality standard applies to the care of adolescents and young adults, it should be noted that the statements are mostly based on guideline evidence that primarily focuses on adults (aged 18 years and older) and nonpregnant people. Health Quality Ontario’s Alcohol Use Disorder Quality Standard Advisory Committee members agree that the guidance in this quality standard is also relevant and applicable to people with alcohol use disorder who are 15 years of age and older and people who are pregnant.

Health care professionals should consider that specialized skills and expertise may be required when providing treatment for specific populations, including children, youth, and pregnant people with alcohol use disorder. If treatment of these or other specific populations is beyond a health care professional’s expertise, they should consult or work with another health care professional with appropriate expertise.

Thank you for your comments and feedback. The consultation period has now ended.

The two guides below are in draft form. Please check back here in a few months for the finalized guides and for a variety of other resources related to this standard.

To be notified once a final product is posted here, sign up for our newsletter.

Quality Standard

Clinicians: Know what quality care looks like, based on evidence and expert consensus

Learn More

The clinical guide cover

Patient Conversation Guide

If you have alcohol use disorder: Know what to ask for in your care

Read more

Patient conversation guide cover

The work on this quality standard started in July 2018.

Health Quality Ontario thanks the following individuals for their generous, voluntary contributions of time and expertise to help create this quality standard:

Mike Franklyn (co-chair)
Family Physician;
Program Director, Sudbury Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic;
Assistant Professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Sheryl Spithoff (co-chair)
Family Physician and Addiction Medicine Physician, Women’s College Hospital

Debbie Bang
Director, Quality Improvement, Addictions and Mental Health Ontario

Bryce Barker
Knowledge Broker, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Bjug Borgundvaag
Emergency Department Physician, Mount Sinai Hospital

Michelle Brisbois
Executive Director, Superior Family Health Team

Greg Carfagnini
Physician Lead, Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic NorWest Community Health Centre

Yelena Chorny
Addiction Physician, Guelph Rapid Access Addiction Clinic and Homewood Health Centre

Kim Corace
Director, Clinical Programming and Research, Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders Program, The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre

Norman Giesbrecht
Emeritus Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Lori Kiefer
Senior Medical Consultant, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Pamela Leece
Public Health Physician, Public Health Ontario; Courtesy Staff, Women’s College Hospital

Audrey Logan
Aboriginal Patient Navigator, Windsor Regional Hospital

Paul Newcombe
Lived Experience Advisor
Facilitator, SMART Recovery Program;
Counselling Student, McMaster University

Irene Njoroge
Advanced Practice Nurse, Women’s College Hospital

Valerie Primeau
Psychiatrist, North Bay Regional Health Centre

Tom Regehr
Lived Experience Advisor
Founder and Executive Director, CAST Canada

Judy Wells
Lived Experience Advisor

Rosanra Yoon
Nurse Practitioner, Jean Tweed Centre

If you have any questions please send an e-mail to

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