Back to previous page

New BPG: Engaging Clients Who Use Substances

One in four Canadians is living with a substance-use disorder. And, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, only 0.4 per cent of Canadians using substances are accessing publicly funded treatment services, demonstrating need for greater government support.

To address this issue, RNAO released a new best practice guideline (BPG), Engaging Clients Who Use Substances . This guideline aims to provide nurses and health-care providers with recommendations to both assess and treat clients 11 years of age and older -regardless of practice setting.

The document was developed by an expert panel of health-care leaders from across Ontario. The BPG outlines many tools nurses can turn to, including a comprehensive algorithm for addressing substance use. The BPG contains 14 recommendations tailored to health-care providers, education and the system, as a whole. One, in particular, targets youth and adolescents who are at risk for or experiencing substance-use disorder as people between the ages of 15 and 24 years are three times more likely to have a substance-use disorder.

Among the other BPG recommendations:

  • Provide continuing education for health-care providers to enhance their ability to assess and work with clients at risk or experiencing a substance-use disorder.
  • Integrate components of harm reduction and the social determinants of health into organizations addressing substance use disorders.
  • Ensure undergrad nurses and other health-care providers are equipped with theory and clinical practice opportunities.

For more information about this guideline, please visit