Transforming Corrections: Therapeutic Living Units in the Alberta ROSC

April 3rd, 11:00 am to 12:30

Glen Room 206 – TELUS Convention Centre Calgary

Dr. Paul Sobey, Elizabeth Loudon, Kristopher Liber, and Kieran Spice

Transforming Corrections: Therapeutic Living Units in the Alberta ROSC

About this Session

Therapeutic Living Units (TLUs) are Therapeutic Communities (TC) adapted for correctional facilities. TCs are a highly effective evidence-based intervention for the treatment of severe SUDs with more than 60 years of therapeutic value in communities, jails, and other settings. The presenters will discuss the unique approach taken in establishing and operating three TLUs in Alberta, the daily program, including the rationale and philosophy, and the evidence for the approach.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the participant will:

1. Have a clear understanding of the evidence base for the TC model and its adaptation for a correctional facility.

2. Understand the unique process RSG took in standing up and operating TLUs.

3. Understand the unique program RSG developed and modifications made to achieve the best possible outcomes


1. De Leon, G. Is the Therapeutic Community an Evidence-Based Treatment? What the Evidence Says. In Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal for Therapeutic and Supportive Organizations (2010).Vanderplasschen W, Colpaert K, Autrique M, et al. Therapeutic communities for addictions: a review of their effectiveness from a recovery-oriented perspective. Scientific World Journal. (2013) 2013:427817. doi:10.1155/2013/427817

2. De Leon G. “The Gold Standard” and Related Considerations for a Maturing Science of Substance Abuse Treatment. Therapeutic Communities; A Case in Point. Substance use & misuse, (2015) 50(8-9):1106–1109. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2015.1012846.

3. Doyle MF, Shakeshaft A, Guthrie J, Snijder M, Butler T. A systematic review of evaluations of prison-based alcohol and other drug use behavioural treatment for men. Aust N Z J Public Health. (2019) 43(2):120-130. doi: 10.1111/1753- 6405.12904.

4. Hubbard RL, Craddock SG, Anderson J. Overview of 5-year follow-up outcomes in the drug abuse treatment outcome studies (DATOS). J Subst Abuse Treat. 2003;25:125 – 134.

5. Prendergast LM, Hall AE, Wexler KH, Melnick G, Cao Y. Amity Prison-Based Therapeutic Community: 5-Year Outcomes. Prison Journal (2004) 84(1):36-60. community-5-year-outcomes

6. Rowan M, Poole N, Shea B. et al. Cultural interventions to treat addictions in Indigenous populations: findings from a scoping study. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy 9, 34 (2014).

7. Gress CLZ, Arabsky S. Nanaimo Correctional Centre Therapeutic Community Preliminary Impact Analysis: British Columbia: Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor. (2010). justice/criminal-justice/corrections/research-evaluation/ncc-tc-pia.pdf


Dr. Sobey’s background is in Family Practice. He completed fellowship training in Addiction Medicine at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University in 1999. Since this time, he has focused his practice on the treatment of patients with addictions. He has had the honour and opportunity to work extensively in educational, residential treatment, hospital and correctional facility settings, as well as medical-legal, occupational, hospital and administrative roles. He is a past President of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, the nationally representative organization for physicians and allied healthcare professionals providing healthcare services for people with addictions. Given he is a person in long term recovery, his practice has always had a recovery medicine focus, assisting people in finding pathways of recovery. In December 2022, two colleagues and Dr. Sobey formed ROSC Solutions Group. After a competitive bid process, RSG was awarded several healthcare contracts by the Government of Alberta. The contract’s scope of work is focused on supporting Alberta’s Recovery Oriented System of Care in addressing addiction and mental health challenges.

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Alberta model