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Principles of care

This is a framework to support clinicians and care teams to build positive, effective relationships with patients and their families. These principles are intended to apply to all care settings and all interactions with patients.

  1. Social Determinants of Health: Alcohol use, high-risk drinking and AUD should be viewed within a larger societal framework that is shaped by inequities in the social determinants of health. Where appropriate, clinicians should aim to address disparities in the socioeconomic determinants of health by connecting patients with resources that meet these needs (e.g., housing, food/nutrition, financial assistance, employment).

  3. Patient-Centred Care: Clinicians should strive to provide care that is respectful of the unique needs, values and preferences of each patient. Patients should be empowered as experts in their own care.

  5. Trauma- and Violence-Informed Practice: Clinicians should be familiar with and incorporate the principles of trauma- and violence-informed practice in the care and clinical management of patients with AUD, with the goal of creating a safe and respectful environment that minimizes the potential for harm and re-traumatization.

  7. Anti-Racist Practices: Confronting and interrogating racist structures in health care and building awareness of one’s own position within oppressive systems can help improve care engagement and health outcomes for racialized populations.

  9. Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility: Clinicians should make a meaningful commitment to providing culturally safe care and practicing cultural humility in order to establish safe, positive partnerships with Indigenous patients and families.

  11. Harm Reduction: A harm reduction approach to alcohol use supports any steps taken by patients to improve their health and well-being. Clinicians should respect patients’ decisions and goals around alcohol use and promote strategies to minimize alcohol-related harms.

  13. Recovery and Wellness-Oriented Care: Clinicians should acknowledge and validate patients’ goals in AUD treatment and care, which may include recovery or self-defined wellness.

  15. Integrated Continuum of Care: AUD is understood to be a potentially chronic, relapsing and remitting condition. This guideline supports the use of a stepped and integrated approach, in which treatment options are continually adjusted to meet changing patient needs, circumstances and goals.

  17. Comprehensive Health Management: AUD should be managed within a broader framework of comprehensive health care and support, including routine and ongoing medical, mental health, and psychosocial assessments.

  19. Family and Social Circle Involvement in Care: Family and social circle involvement in treatment planning and decision-making should be encouraged whenever possible and when deemed appropriate by the patient and their care team.

Read more about these principles and tips for how to implement them in your practice in the full guideline.