Aller au contenu principal

Service Access to Recovery (SAR)

Also known as Ottawa Addictions Access and Referral Services (OAARS)

Service Access to Recovery (SAR) is a starting point for people 16 years and older who are concerned about their substance use and want to understand and discuss treatment options. People under 16 years will have access to SAR if they consume opioids. Our main goal is to help people navigate the addictions treatment system so they can find the solutions they need and the treatment option that is right for them or their loved ones. We conduct screening and assessments, offer referrals and provide information, support and guidance.


Clients first call to speak to our triage navigator. During that phone conversation the navigator will ask screening questions and may triage certain clients toward immediate support, within 2 to 3 business days (people with very high risk usage – individuals using opioids for instance, people in withdrawal withdrawal, pregnant women etc.). Depending on your unique circumstances, the triage navigator may refer you to:

  • a nurse practitioner who has an expertise in addictions and mental health
  • a Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic
  • the Ottawa Withdrawal Management Centre
  • your family doctor
  • a community agency or an addictions centre
  • outpatient counselling

The triage navigator will also schedule an assessment appointment to be conducted either at our main offices or one of our other locations, depending where you live or if you require a bed at the Residential Withdrawal Management Centre.

Evaluation and Referral

At your assessment visit, we will use questionnaires as assessment tools to gather information about your substance use, your mental health and other subjects related to your general health. We use this information to help decide what services you may need. The main purposes of the assessment conducted are to:

  • Determine problem areas
  • Investigate your past and present use of all substances and level of dependence to them
  • Prepare a treatment referral plan

Appointments usually take 90 minutes. They include intake information, assessment and referral planning. When appropriate, we will work with other significant people in your life to develop your treatment plan, and with your consent, we may share the plan with other professionals or agencies we may refer you to. A referral to treatment is usually a significant part of your recovery plan. However, we will not make a referral unless you willingly give us your consent and approval. You can choose to act on your referral plan and recommendations as soon as your assessment is completed, at which point the navigator will immediately submit your referral to the treatment programs that best suit you, or you may choose to wait until you are ready to start on your recovery journey.


We treat all of your information in a strictly confidential manner. Our counsellors will explain clearly to you the rules around sharing your information with other partner agencies. No one will have access to your information without your consent. (Any exception to this rule will be explained to you in advance.)

Your Treatment Plan

Treatment referral planning is an activity you will do with your navigator. It means the plan is created with your input. Your counsellor will explain all of the options available and give you the information you need to make a good decision. You can determine not only the order you want to do things in, but whether or not you want to move forward at all. Nothing happens without your consent. Treatment goals can include both abstinence and/or harm reduction. Abstinence means you stop using a substance completely. Harm reduction involves planning to progressively stop the usage of substances that create the most harmful consequences for you. It can involve a variety of strategies, depending on your personal circumstances.