PChAD 101

Protection of Children Using Drugs (PChAD) Program

What is PChAD?

The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs (PChAD) Act is an Alberta law that helps children under the age of 18 whose use of alcohol or drugs will likely cause significant psychological or physical harm to themselves or others. The law took effect on July 1, 2006. The PChAD program allows you, as a legal guardian, to ask the court for a PChAD Protection Order for your child. This Protection Order means that your child will be taken involuntarily to a Protective Safe House for up to 15 days for detoxification, stabilization, and assessment.

How do I apply for a PChAD Protection Order?

In order for a parent/guardian to apply for a PChAD Protection Order, they must first attend a PChAD pre-application information session with an Alberta Health Services (AHS) Addiction & Mental Health counsellor.

What happens at the PChAD pre-application information session?

In a PChAD pre-application information session an AHS counsellor meets with parents/guardians to inform them about the program, so that they can make the best decision for their child.

After completing the PChAD pre-application information session, the AHS counsellor will provide parents/guardians with a confirmation of attendance letter. Without this confirmation letter, parents/guardians cannot apply for a PChAD Protection Order to the courts.

Some of the information that may be reviewed includes:

  1. An overview of Addiction & Mental Health youth addiction services, as well as other external services available in Alberta.
  2. More information about the PChAD program, including the application, transportation, assessment and treatment planning.
  3. Information about the required notice of application.
  4. An overview of the child, including any Addiction & Mental Health concerns and/or history.
  5. The family of the child’s right to confidentiality, and details about how information may be shared.
  6. The right of the child and their parents/guardians to review the PChAD Protection Order, and what this process might look like.
  7. Information about mandatory parent/guardian involvement in the program.

Other important things to know about the program

PChAD is a planned admission process and not a crisis service. Bed availability changes, and there is no guarantee that a bed will be available when a parent/guardian calls. Sometimes there is a waitlist for beds.

The goals of the PChAD program include

  1. Detoxification
  2. Stabilization
  3. Assessment

The PChAD program is a 10 day program with the possibility of a 5 day extension to a maximum of 15 days.

You must attend a PChAD pre-application information session and receive a letter confirming your attendance before applying for every PChAD Protection Order – even if you have applied for a different PChAD Protection Order in the past.

Where do I find my nearest PChAD pre-application session?

You can attend a PChAD pre-application information session with an addiction counsellor at your local Addiction Services office. To find your local office, search the AHS healthcare locator or call 811 (Health Link) or 1-866-332-2322 (the Addiction Helpline).


Quick Reference

If you have questions about the PChAD program, contact any AHS Addiction & Mental Health services office or call the Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.

A print version of this website, called the The PChAD Information Series, is available. Contact pchad@ahs.ca to learn more.

Service Listing