Over one million Ontarians experience a mental health and/or substance use challenge each year and timely access to addiction treatment in Ontario is limited. More than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in new and more complex challenges. Nonpharmacological interventions and therapies (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy), as stated in the Problematic Alcohol Use and Alcohol Use Disorder Quality Standards, can “help people with alcohol use disorder manage their symptoms, cravings, and other aspects of addiction and recovery”. Virtual health care solutions support clients by increasing access to care and are an effective way of providing addiction management through nonpharmacological interventions.
What is Breaking Free?
Breaking Free is a free online support tool designed to help Ontarians ages 16 and up reduce or stop the use of over 70 substances, such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs, including opioids.
Breaking Free uses practical, self-guided courses, positive coping skills and behaviour change techniques to support individuals with early intervention, prevention, or rehabilitation, and engages people to better manage addiction, decreasing the chances of relapse. It is an engaging, interactive, and highly personalized digital recovery program, available in English and French, that health care providers can add to their clinical toolkit to support their clients struggling with addiction problems.
How the program works
Clients can use Breaking Free as a self-directed treatment since every screen is accompanied by full English and French voiceovers; or it can be delivered as Computer-Assisted Therapy by counsellors and practitioners who are trained, through an e-learning platform. It is accessible 24/7 on any device and with a live online dashboard that allows its reach and impact to be tracked in real time, and its Companion app further strengthens relapse prevention.
The program utilizes proven behavioural science and is shown by extensive peer-reviewed research to be effective at helping people overcome addiction to a wide range of substances – including alcohol, opioids, stimulants and prescribed medications – and associated mental health difficulties. Read the Breaking Free Digital Self-Management Tool for Substance Use Disorder Q&A and watch the recording of the launch webinar for a demo of the solution and to learn more about implementation.
Accessing Breaking Free
Health care providers can adopt Breaking Free Online and offer it to their clients to self-enroll and use it as Computer-Assisted Therapy. Those interested can contact Breaking Free directly to obtain a service code to give to clients for enrolling in the solution. Read the Implementation Support Sites and Access Sites Health Service Providers Q&A for more information and watch the webinar recording of our Implementation Support Site Kick-off Orientation.
A variety of resources, including toolkits on getting started, are available on Breaking Free’s website to health care providers with a service code.