‘Give them a chance’: A son’s struggle with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

By Curtis Mandeville, CBC News Posted: Sep 22, 2016 


The father of a man who went missing in Dettah, N.W.T., last month is sharing the story of his son’s turbulent past in hopes of reminding people that everyone deserves a second chance.

21-year-old Mark Lynn went missing on Aug. 24. Earlier this month, after two weeks of searching, human remains found near the community were confirmed by the RCMP to be Lynn’s.

The cause of death has not been determined.

‘The beginning of the downfall’

“[Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder] was certainly a difficulty for him,” said Mark’s father, Jim Lynn.

Mark Lynn

Jim Lynn said he was not aware his son had Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder when he adopted him as a baby. (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

According to Jim, the symptoms associated with the disorder wreaked havoc on Mark’s life from an early age.

Struggling with behavior and basic decision making, Mark started getting into trouble with teachers and other authoritative figures.

“A lot of those things he seemed to do at school… he didn’t share… at home,” said Jim.

That’s why it “kind of came as a shock,” when Mark’s teachers began calling.

According to Jim, those phone calls were the beginning of a long struggle with the education system.

By the time Mark was 11, he had been expelled from Yellowknife’s Weledeh Catholic School and from Kaw Tay Whee School in Dettah.

Jim says Mark was then prohibited from attending any public or Catholic schools in Yellowknife.

“That was the beginning of the downfall for my son really,” said Jim remorsefully.

“The kids [are] saying ‘you’re so dumb, you’re so stupid, you’re so bad. No school will even accept you, no school will even take you.'”

Mark Lynn

Jim said Mark started getting into trouble with teachers and other authoritative figures at an early age. (Submitted by Jim Lynn)

Jim said he pleaded with the Catholic school board to readmit his son. According to Jim, the board agreed to let Mark back on the condition that he seek treatment to address his behavior.

But the struggles continued, and Mark’s attendance was sporadic until Grade 9, when he dropped out for good.

CBC contacted both the Yellowknife Education District No.1 and the Yellowknife Catholic school boards. Neither board could not deny nor confirm Mark Lynn’s school history due to confidentiality.

Love hockey, biking, ‘anything with sports’

Jim said the family spent the years that followed trying to get Mark into counselling, but he remained closed off, and on many occasions refused to talk.

Meanwhile, Jim tried to encourage his son to eke out whatever enjoyment and happiness he could.

“He loved his hockey. He loved to go biking actually… he loved to ski board… anything with sports, anything with outdoors, he certainly enjoyed.”

But Mark’s disorder, combined with the alcohol that made its way into his life at age 13, brought his behavioural problems to a whole new level, and Jim reached a breaking point last spring.

Mark had returned home after a night of drinking and became enraged — verbally and physically lashing out.

“I reached the end and thought that, you know, one way or another… he’s got to learn that’s… not acceptable. So the police were called and a restraining order was put on him.”

Jim said Mark left home immediately, and spent the next few months living on the streets.

Finally happy, but it didn’t last long

In a last-ditch effort to help, Jim rented his son a place to live, but the landlord refused to renew the lease, and Mark went to live with relatives.

The stability of living with family started to show, and Jim said his son started to turn his life around.

Mark stopped smoking marijuana and landed a job at one of the diamond mines.

Mark Lynn

21-year-old Mark Lynn went missing on Aug. 24 near Dettah. Earlier this month, human remains found near the community were confirmed to be those of Mark’s. (Yellowknife RCMP)

Jim said his son was finally “happy,” but it didn’t last for long. Shortly after beginning work, Mark’s employer learned he had criminal charges pending, and he was told not to return until they were settled.

“That just tore him apart… and to my mind it was a fatal, fatal thing.”

Jim said his son returned to his old lifestyle of doing drugs, drinking, and dealing — and he often wonders what would have happened if his son had been met with a more compassionate and understanding response.

“You give them a chance. You not only give them a chance when they’re… innocent but even after they’re found guilty.”

Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mark-lynn-fasd-1.3773318

Participants wanted for Canadian FASD Media Coverage Study!


Participants wanted for a group interview study about FASD!
We want to talk to you about your experiences with FASD. In particular, we want to hear your thoughts and feelings about examples of Canadian FASD media coverage, to think about how to more effectively communicate information about FASD. Your perspective will be invaluable in helping us to better understand FASD, and the way it is discussed in the public sphere.

Who can participate?
We want to include key stakeholders, like: 1) adults with FASD; 2) parents of and caregivers for people with FASD; 3) healthcare professionals with experience diagnosing or caring for patients with FASD; and 4) FASD communicators (e.g., journalists, public health officials).

What does the study look like?
This study will involve participation in a 90-minute group interview in English. Each interview will include only one stakeholder group at a time (e.g., only adults with FASD, only parents). You will be compensated for your time.

How can I get involved?
If you feel you match the above criteria, please send an email to: john.aspler@ircm.qc.ca.
We will send you a brief online questionnaire to fill out, as well as the informed consent
document for you to look over when deciding whether or not to participate. Sending us an email does not mean you have agreed to participate, and you can choose to stop at any time.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact John Aspler at:
john.aspler@ircm.qc.ca, or at (514) 987-5500 (extension 3356).

Study Title: Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the Canadian print news media: A study of media discourse and key stakeholder perspectives

This study is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of bioethicists and scientists:

John Aspler, BSc, Doctoral candidate, Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM).

Eric Racine, PhD, Director of the Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), 110 avenue des Pins Ouest, Montréal QC H2W 1R7, Tel.: 514 987-5723, email: eric.racine@ircm.qc.ca.

James Reynolds, PhD, Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queens University.

Check out the previous blog post on FASD and Media Click here!


Facts About Alcohol Women Should Know


Most women have engaged in alcohol consumption at some point of time. It might happen to be to satisfy their curiosity, from peer pressure, on their twenty first birthday bash, or simply as part of a celebration. But there are certain facts about alcohol that women must know. Alcohol might help us unwind and enjoy the moment. But you will find women who consume alcohol in excess and also frequently. The result is that it could take a toll on their lives and their health. Consuming significant quantities of alcohol puts women in danger of suffering from health problems including cancer, diabetes and liver problems.

Alcohol depletes the body of the essential nutrients. Most alcoholic women do not eat a healthful diet either. The booze consumed remains in the bloodstream. This ends up playing havoc with the whole body functions.


There are certain facts about alcohol that women should know. Women who drink alcohol on a daily basis are more prone to suffer from breast cancer than women who do not consume alcohol.


Women who drink alcohol while trying to conceive or during pregnancy can cause harm to their foetus. These babies who have alcohol-consuming mothers develop learning and behavioural problems and also are sometimes born abnormal.

Women cannot break down alcohol as efficiently as men. Alcohol consumption in women can also affect their menstrual cycles. It ends up causing stillbirth, premature delivery, miscarriage and infertility.


Alcohol consumption can also cause damaging effects to the brain of women more than men. It also causes alcohol related liver diseases and liver cirrhosis more in women than in men. It has also been found that alcohol addiction runs in the family. According to research, women have been found to be more dependent on alcohol than men. It has been found that among men and women who consume alcohol on a daily basis, women are more prone to become alcoholics.

Read more at: http://www.boldsky.com/health/wellness/2016/facts-about-alcohol-women-should-know/gallery-cl4-105713.html

Retrieved from: http://www.boldsky.com/health/wellness/2016/facts-about-alcohol-women-should-know/gallery-cl4-105713.html

FASD, Stigma and the “Immediate Jump”

FASD Research Project

A recent event held at the University of Regina brought together families, people with FASD, frontline workers, policy makers and researchers to discuss Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This event focused on creating a space for collaboration in the area of research with a focus on the perspectives of those with FASD and their families. The event included discussions in four key areas including: (1) aging, (2)  FASD as a whole body disorder, (3) effective supports and services and (4) advocating for effective community supports and services.

The President of the University of Regina, Dr. Vianne Timmons, spoke about her own experiences assisting her daughter, Kelly, who lives with FASD. Vianne struck a chord with the audience as she shared her story. She then took her message to the media,  a message about the challenges of growing up with the disability and the ways in which stigma impacts the lives of families and those…

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‘I have a deficit’: Sparse coffers delaying more action on addiction, says Alberta health minister


uploaded-by-janet-french-email-jfrenchpostmedia-com5Arron Sharphead, 23, works on a poster at Recover Day Edmonton, Sunday, Sept. 18. The annual event is to bring awareness and counter stigma for people recovering from addictions and to help connect people with relevant services. JANET FRENCH / POSTMEDIA NEWS

The province’s precarious finances are preventing the government from taking “massive” steps it would like to take to improve addiction treatment in Alberta, the health minister said Sunday.

“I have a deficit and the price of oil is a fraction of what we’re (used to) seeing it at,” Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman said at an addiction recovery awareness event. “We are continuing to invest in resources in that area, but of course we’d like to provide far greater than we are today.”

Alberta needs hundreds more addiction treatment beds, and inpatient programs that run for at least 90 days — not the current 18 day stint, said Mike Ryan, chief mentor and program director of the youth advocacy and mentorship organization Clean Scene.

Ryan was the spokesman for Edmonton’s fourth annual Recovery Day, which gathered people in a Little Italy park Sunday to celebrate recovery from addiction and counter the shame some people feel about the problem.

People ready to seek help for addiction must wait as long as three months for access to a bed in a detoxification program, Ryan said. By then, they may have changed their mind and relapsed.

“When you want to make a change in your life, you need to move quickly,” Ryan said.

Mike Ryan, chief mentor and program director of the youth advocacy and mentorship organization Clean Scene, said Alberta needs more treatment beds for people who decide to kick their addictions.
Mike Ryan, chief mentor and program director of the youth advocacy and mentorship organization Clean Scene, said Alberta needs more treatment beds for people who decide to kick their addictions. JANET FRENCH /POSTMEDIA NEWS

Ryan wants Alberta Health Services to take a new approach to guiding recovery, by adopting a mentorship model that matches people with others who have recovered from addiction, instead of an addictions counselling method that is too laden with bureaucracy, he said.

He joined some politicians and bereaved families and friends in calling on the health minister to declare fentanyl addiction a public health emergency in Alberta. B.C.’s chief medical health officer declared such an emergency last April after a rash of fentanyl deaths.

Alberta tallied 153 deaths from fentanyl overdoses during the first six months of 2016, and 274 deaths during 2015.

Ryan blamed the stigma surrounding addiction for a lack of government action. Any other emergent health problem with such a rising death toll would be treated as a crisis, he said.

Hoffman said she has discussed the possibility of calling a public health emergency with ministry officials, and they don’t believe it’s necessary in Alberta. One provincial health region allows sites to share data more freely than in other provinces, she said. The law giving more power to public health officials and nurses is designed for outbreaks of infectious diseases, she said.

“I want to make sure that we’re focusing the resources on where they’re going to make the best difference. Tying up legal counsel, bringing forward a public health emergency when it wouldn’t give us any additional tools, I don’t think it’s a good (use) of the public funds today,” Hoffman said.

The government initiated a mental health and addictions review shortly after taking office in May 2015, the minister said. As a result, government has announced or added 50 more detoxification beds, and made fentanyl’s antidote, naloxone, more widely available. The ministry has also pumped more money this year into methadone clinics, which help wean people off their addictions to painkillers and other opioids.

Opening three additional youth detox beds in Calgary has decreased the wait time to one day from 13 days, Hoffman’s press secretary, Laura Ehrkamp, said in an email. Same-day access is available for youths in Edmonton, she said. The average wait time now for an adult bed is about 20 days.

Hoffman said she hears Ryan’s concern, and said anyone who is ready to enter addictions treatment should have immediate access to a program.

“We want to make sure that the service is available to help them,” Hoffman said. “We still have work to do.”

Retrieved from: http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/i-have-a-deficit-sparse-coffers-delaying-more-action-on-addiction-says-alberta-health-minister

Stop labelling addicts ‘bad people making bad choices,’ says B.C. doctor


A Vancouver Island addiction expert says stamping out stigma against addicts is a crucial step to stemming the tide of drug-related deaths, just as activists did during the HIV/AIDS epidemic once seen as a “dirty disease from dirty people.”

CBC’s examination of treatment and recovery in the wake of a rash of fentanyl-related death has inspired an outpouring of concern and a backlash of judgement.

CBC Radio’s Talk Back line has gotten many comments from listeners blaming addicts as the cause of their own problems and questioning why taxpayers should pay for their treatment.

‘No longer a choice’

Dr. Patricia Mark, who works at the AIDS Vancouver Island methadone clinic, says this opinion is common and based in ignorance. It is also part of the reason the overdose crisis continues as addicts are left out in the cold, blamed for their illness and not offered resources that could help.

People believe addicts are “bad people making bad choices,” she explained.

But when it comes to illicit drug use, the problem is not that simple.

Dr Patricia Mark

Dr. Patricia Mark of AIDS Vancouver Island says blaming hardcore addicts for their brain illness ignores science and only feeds the deepening overdose crisis. (Mark Nixon)

“After the first initial few uses, it’s no longer a choice. It’s a brain disease which alters the brain and these most unfortunate people are stuck with something they just can’t control,” said Mark.

She pointed out that many illnesses that cost society money start with “choices” and are completely “self-inflicted.”

“Let’s look at smoking … what about alcohol misuse? Let’s talk about obesity … these [also] cost the taxpayer a lot of money,” she said.

Addiction and trauma hand in hand

Mark described the men and women she treats in the B.C. Corrections system and at the methadone clinic where she works.

They are not “bad people,” she said.

Instead, she describes them as victims of trauma — often horrific abuse as children.

“They’ve had horrible lives — unbelievable abuse they endured as children that I don’t even want to describe,” Mark said.

“These are damaged people that use drugs and alcohol to blot out everything that is horrible in their lives.”

Despite the trauma they have survived, many end up blamed for their addiction and victimized again, she explained.

Mark said many hardcore addicts are almost impossible to fix, and will never be able to walk away from the illness that has changed their brain’s wiring.

Is there progress in helping addicts?

Not as much as Mark would like to see.

The political impetus to fund evidence-based care and support is lacking, she explains.

“[Judgmentalism is] rampant at all levels of society — and that includes political levels,” said Mark.

The thinking reminds her of how long it took before people joined forces to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic that was overcome with groups of individuals who demanded people see past the stigma to the lives being lost.

“That was considered to be a dirty disease from dirty people … until a very courageous group of men and women got together from Vancouver and they took this head on,” she said.

“And look what happened! We have got this illness, this disease pretty well under control in B.C. now.”

Dr Patricia Mark of AIDS Vancouver Island

“After the first initial few uses it’s no longer a choice. It’s a brain disease,” Dr. Patricia Mark of AIDS Vancouver Island told CBC’s Andrew Chang. (CBC)

Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/addiction-stigma-addicts-aids-crisis-1.3767406

High Stress Reduces Woman’s Chance of Pregnancy

High Stress Reduces Woman’s Chance of Pregnancy

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