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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HLTH 4521: Assessment and Intervention Approaches to Problematic Substance Use

Building on many of the concepts introduced in HLTH 4511, learners will focus on ways of supporting individuals and families who are adversely affected by substance misuse. Learners are introduced to key concepts and basic competencies required for practice. The course will blend evidence-informed practices and core behavioral and technical competencies for addiction professionals through an interprofessional lens. Consideration will be given to the social determinants of health and the impacts these have upon case conceptualization and care planning. Learners will examine evidence-based interventions with a special emphasis on skills that illustrate a selection of core technical competencies.

Learning outcomes

By working through the learning activities in this course, participants will:

  • Explain historical and contemporary theories and perspectives on addiction and the influence these have had on the evolution of substance use services and supports.
  • Identify and demonstrate key components for effective therapeutic relationships.
  • Describe a process which can be utilized to guide ethically based clinical practice decisions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to successfully complete a brief screen, functional analysis or a biopsychosocial assessment.
  • Recognize the importance of screening and assessment as an ongoing component of working with individuals affected by problematic substance use.
  • Recognize how evidence supports the following treatment modalities: Motivational Interviewing, Brief Intervention, Relapse Prevention, Behavioral Couples Therapy, Community Reinforcement Approach, Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training, Contingency management, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Behavioral Social Skills Training and Adjunctive Pharmacotherapy, and be able to explain the basic concepts behind these evidence-based practices (EBPs).
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining fidelity when utilizing evidence based practices in order to ensure their efficacy.
  • Demonstrate foundational skill in the application of selected practices taken from chosen EBPs, as defined in the core behavioral and technical competencies for Canada's substance abuse work force.

Course topics

  • Lesson 1: History of Addiction Theory and Treatment and Evidence-based Treatment
  • Lesson 2: Client-Centred Care: The Importance of Effective Listening and the Therapeutic Alliance
  • Lesson 3: Understanding the Principles of Ethical-Based Decision-making: Applying Decision Guides in Treatment Situations
  • Lesson 4: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral (SBIR) and Crisis Identification and Referral
  • Lesson 5: Biopsychosocial Assessment
  • Lesson 6: Clinical Impression and Treatment Plan
  • Lesson 7: Evidence-Based Interventions--Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Behavioural Self Control Training
  • Lesson 8: Introduction to Relapse Prevention and Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention--Practice for Self Care and Coping
  • Lesson 9: Working with concerned significant others: Introduction to Behavioural-based Couples Therapy
  • Lesson 10: Working with concerned significant others: Introduction to Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT)
  • Lesson 11: Working with Adjunctive Pharmacological Therapies
  • Lesson 12: Diversity and Cultural Responsiveness

Required text and materials

Peter M. Miller (Ed.). Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment. Burlington, MA: Academic Press, (2009).
Type: Textbook, ISBN: 978-0123743480

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet is required.


To successfully complete this course, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project. The following table illustrates how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1: Self-Reflection--My Evidence-Based Practice 20%
Assignment 2: Reference Guide 30%
Assignment 3: Competency Integration Journal 20%
Final Project: Evidence-Based Treatment Review Paper 30%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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