N.W.T. MLAs call for formal fetal alcohol spectrum disorder strategy, health minister says no need


By Randi Beers, CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2017 6:00 AM CT

The Yellowknife Association for Community Living began its fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) awareness campaign on Friday, as some MLAs called on the government to implement a formal strategy to combat the spectrum of disorders in the territory.

The association is delivering pregnancy tests to 12 Yellowknife establishments to dispense in their washrooms.

Lynn Elkin, executive director for the association, wants the campaign to get people thinking about the possibility they might be pregnant while they are out on the town. The pregnancy tests come with information about FASD and a collection of mocktail, or non-alcoholic, drink recipes.

“We know people were using it,” she said about the campaign in previous years. “We did have some phone calls that came where people said, ‘I’m [tested] positive and I was out at the bar last night so what should I be doing?'”

Territory should do more, say 2 MLAs

MLAs Cory Vanthuyne and Julie Green both applaud the work the association is doing. In fact, they both say they’d like to see the territorial government dedicate resources specifically to FASD awareness, prevention and support.

Vanthuyne applauds work done by Health Minister Glen Abernethy as chair of the Canada Northwest FASD partnership, but said there are areas where the government can do better.

He supports a 10-year plan to fight FASD.

“I think it’s something that would get pretty good support from the members of the Legislative Assembly,” Vanthuyne said.

Abernethy says his department is working on a disability action plan, which he says will include those with FASD, and expects to have the plan in MLAs’ hands by Christmas.

But Abernethy added that a dedicated plan to reduce FASD isn’t what the territory needs.

“We have a lot of action plans,” he said. “We need to take action rather than write these things.”

Glen Abernethy June 2016

N.W.T. Health Minister Glen Abernethy says the territory does not need a specific FASD plan. (CBC)

Alberta finishes 10-year strategy to combat FASD

In Alberta, one government official says the province is “leaps and bounds” ahead of where it was 10 years ago in regards to FASD, thanks to an innovative 10-year strategy which wrapped up earlier this year.

Janice Penner, the manager of FASD initiatives with that province’s Department of Community and Social Services, explained why she felt the initiative worked.

“Our approach in working with community was absolutely critical to our success,” she said.

Through the strategy, the government of Alberta has published data that paints a clear picture of the costs of FASD in the province. Approximately 46,000 Albertans live with FASD, costing the government $837 million per year. According to the Institute of Health Economics, the Alberta Government saves $784,000 for each prevented case of FASD.

As part of the strategy, Alberta implemented the Parent Child Assistance Program which partners women vulnerable to alcoholism and addiction to a support worker for a period of three years. Through this program alone, the government estimates it prevented 31 cases of FASD between 2008 and 2011, saving $22 million.

Penner wasn’t able to provide an exact amount the government spent to implement this strategy, but estimated it was $16.5 million per year, with a bit more spent in earlier years.

No FASD research in N.W.T.

According to a department spokesperson, the Department of Health and Social Services has never studied FASD in the N.W.T.

The territorial government has also never attempted to collect prevalence rates either, but refers to national studies that suggest up to four per cent of Canadians live with it. Four per cent of the N.W.T.’s population adds up to approximately 1,760 people.

At Stanton Territorial Hospital, an FASD Community and Family Support Program completes 10 FASD assessments per year. Those 10 patients get support through the program until they are 18 years old. After that, the government refers them to the same support services offered to all residents with disabilities.

N.W.T. residents over the age of 19 can’t get a diagnosis in the territory, and the Department of Health does not offer a way for people in this age group to get a diagnosis in the South.

Elkin said she isn’t sure a multi-million dollar, 10-year strategy would make much of a difference in the territory.

“I think it’s just a matter of supporting people,” she said.

Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-fasd-strategy-1.4406531

CMHA, National Addictions Awareness Week: Words Matter


Recovery Language: A Guide

Here are some ways to avoid using language that stigmatizes substance use and addiction:

  1. Use “people-first language.” For instance, refer to “person who uses substances”, or “person who has a substance use disorder”; and not a “drug user”, “addict” or “alcoholic”. This is more neutral language that helps to maintain the individuality of the person.
  2. Refer to “substance use” rather than “substance abuse”. “Abuse” or “abuse” has been shown to contribute to negative outcomes, and may be more likely to occur.
  3. Choose to recognize that substance use disorders are health disorders. They are not the result of any kind of character flaw or lack of personal willpower. In fact, substance use disorders are the most common mental health disorder.
  4. Choose to refer to “drug poisoning” rather than to “drug overdose” as the latter perpetuates the myth that a person has “brought this on themselves”.
  5. Referring to a “drug suit,” or “drug of choice” implies that the person can simply choose to stop. Refer to “the substance a person is using”.
  6. Choose language that promotes the recovery process. This means not describing a person being “clean” or “dirty” but rather “not currently using substances”. Also, refer to a person who is not using substances, or is reducing use, as being “in recovery”.
  7. Avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes and biases through the use of slang and pejorative names.
  8. The use of non-stigmatizing language also applies when describing a person with other mental health problems and illnesses.


Michael P. Botticelli. Memo: Changing the Language of Addiction, Office of the National Drug Control Policy. 2017.

Lauren M. Broyles, Ingrid A. Binswanger, Jennifer A. Jenkins, Deborah S. Finnell, Babalola Faseru, Alan Cavaiola, Marianne Pugatch & Adam J. Gordon. Confronting Inadvertent Stigma and Pejorative Language in Addiction Scholarship: A Recognition and Response . Abuse Substance  Vol. 35, Iss.3.2014

John F. Kelly, Richard Saitz & Sarah Wakeman. Language, Substance Use Disorders, and Policy: The Need to Reach Consensus on an Addiction-Ary Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly  Vol 34, Iss 1.2016

MG Weiss, J Ramakrishna, & D. Somma. Health-related stigma: Rethinking Concepts and Interventions. Psychol Health Med . 2006; 11: 277-87.

Michael P. Botticelli, & Howard K.Koh. Changing the Language of Addiction. JAMA October 4, 2016 Volume 316, Number 13

www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org .


Retrieved from: https://cmha.ca/news/cmha-recognizes-national-addictions-awareness-week/ 

Is there a relationship between adverse childhood experiences and problem drinking behaviors? Findings from a population-based sample



The study investigated the relationships between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and heavy and binge drinking, stratified by gender.

Study design

Population-based cross-sectional study.


Data were retrieved from 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Over 39,000 individuals from five states were included in the study. Multiple logistic regression models were used to analyze the weighted data to determine factors associated with heavy and binge drinking for men and women. Each model included ACEs and controlled for sociodemographic variables, depression and smoking status. Bonferroni method was used to correct multiple comparisons.


Only a few relationships between ACEs and problem drinking were observed. Among men, living with a drug abuser as a child was significantly associated with both heavy and binge drinking compared to men who did not reside with a drug abuser as a child. Childhood verbal abuse was linked with men’s binge drinking compared to men who were not verbally abused as children. Among women, none of the nine ACEs examined in the study were associated with their heavy drinking. Only one ACE, verbal abuse, was found to be correlated with binge drinking, compared to women who did not experience childhood verbal abuse. In addition, we did not find the hypothesized, step-wise, graded relationship between the number of ACEs and heavy and binge drinking. However, the risk of heavy drinking was greater if the individual was exposed to four or more childhood adversities among both men and women.


Study hypotheses were only partially supported. Future studies should unpack the interplay among gender, socio-economic status, ACEs, and problem alcohol consumption.

To read more please visit: http://www.publichealthjrnl.com/article/S0033-3506(17)30178-6/abstract

Wait times for addictions treatment can mean ‘life and death’ conference hears


By Charles Hamilton, CBC News Posted: Nov 13, 2017 4:12 PM CT Last Updated: Nov 13, 2017 4:12 PM CT

People seeking help for drug and alcohol addictions can sometimes wait weeks to get the treatment they need.

And during that wait, addicts are more at risk, according to experts and advocates attending a conference in Saskatoon.

“It’s those gaps in between treatment that often kills the addict,” said Marie Agioritis, one of the speakers at the event called Perspectives on Use and Recovery at Saskatoon City Hospital on Monday.

Agioritis’s son died of a fentanyl overdose in 2015. Her other son is an addict, currently in recovery. She says one of the most common misconceptions from parents and loved ones is about how easy it is to get someone into proper treatment for their addiction.

“I talk to a lot of parents that go ‘you know what — I catch my kid using and he’s going straight into treatment’ but that’s not the reality,” she said.

“The reality is you can try to get them detoxed and hopefully get a bed but then it’s one to six weeks which is a very vulnerable time for an addict.”

‘Strike while the iron is hot’

Dwayne Cameron, an addictions counsellor in Saskatoon, agrees people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction can be the most at risk while they wait for the proper treatment they need.

He says while the wait to get someone into a brief detox can be short, getting someone into long-term patient care can sometimes take weeks.

Dwayne Cameron

Dwayn Cameron, an addictions worker in Saskatoon, says more timely access to addictions treatment can be a matter of life or death


“We’ve got some great services already, but part of the problem is timely access,” he said.

“When it comes to addictions, there’s a catch phrase we use that you need to strike when the iron is hot.”

Cameron said addicts are the often the most vulnerable when they’ve detoxed and are no longer using.

“We need to have it so there isn’t a wait times because wait times become life and death,” he said.

Agioritis has been outspoken advocate for better addiction services since her son’s death. She hopes by attending conferences and speaking publicly about her son’s story, she can start to break the stigma surrounding addictions.

That way, she believes, the public will start to demand better treatment options.

“We have to have a kinder gentler environment for the addict because most of the people who are dying right now and in fact all of them had someone who loved them and still loves them,” she said.

Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/wait-times-for-addictions-treatment-can-mean-life-and-death-1.4400572?_cldee=bGlzYS5yb2dvemluc2t5QGNzc2FsYmVydGEuY2E%3d&recipientid=contact-fb04ede4f1d1e6118105480fcfeaa931-fba2bb7714ed474c8fb5781a63d55252&esid=0c85e321-52c9-e711-8133-480fcff4b171

National Addictions Awareness Week: #WordsMatter

Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society


Words Matter

November 12 – 18, 2017

Each year, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) joins organizations across the country in observing National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW). Led nationally by CCSA, NAAW highlights issues and solutions to help address alcohol- and other drug-related harm and provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn about prevention, talk about treatment and recovery, and bring forward solutions for change.

This year, NAAW is putting the spotlight on the stigma surrounding substance use disorders — specifically, how stigmatizing language can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and act as a barrier to seeking help and sustaining recovery. The truth is … WORDS MATTER.

Show your support 

CCSA has created some fact sheets and videos, which we invite you to view and share. We also encourage you to follow the conversation at #WordsMatter and #NAAW2017 on Twitter @CCSACanada and @CCDUSCanada to help support the efforts of individuals…

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Chronic alcohol use found to kill new brain cells, especially in females


By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Brain Function

It has been debated whether too much alcohol kills brain cells or not. Some would say that it only leads to inebriation, while others say it causes reversible effects on the brain. However, a new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has recently found that alcohol does kill brain stem cells in adult mice.

These brain stem cells, found in key regions of the brain, can create new nerve cells and are important for maintaining normal cognitive function.

In addition to this, the study shows for the first time that drinking too much alcohol can cause changes that differ between males and females.

“The discovery that the adult brain produces stem cells that create new nerve cells provides a new way of approaching the problem of alcohol-related changes in the brain. However, before the new approaches can be developed, we need to understand how alcohol impacts the brain stem cells at different stages in their growth, in different brain regions and in the brains of both males and females,” said Dr. Ping Wu, UTMB professor in the department of neuroscience and cell biology.

The broad reach of alcoholism

Alcoholism or chronic alcohol abuse is estimated to affect 14 million Americans today. Over three million American teenagers aged 14 to 17 are reported to have an alcohol problem. Compared to those who started drinking at age 21, people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence.

The study in question used a cutting-edge technique that allowed researchers to tag brain stem cells and observe them over time, all while studying the impact that chronic alcohol consumption had on them. They found that this killed most brain stem cells and reduced the production and development of new nerve cells.

Female mice, in particular, showed more deficits when compared to their male counterparts. Additionally, females also displayed more severe intoxication behaviors and had a more reduced pool of brain stem cells in the sub-ventricular zone of the brain.

To read more please visit https://www.belmarrahealth.com/chronic-alcohol-use-found-kill-new-brain-cells-especially-females/

Teen Risk-Taking: Tips for Parents

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 11.01.25 AM

We all face risks every day.

Teens are faced with making decisions about many new kinds of risk. Choices about drugs, alcohol, driving, relationships, and sex can be life changing.

  • Alberta teens are 3 times more likely to die from injury than all other causes combined.
  • Over 50% of reported sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Alberta are in people between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Part of growing up is learning how to manage risk and make smart choices. Help your teen learn and practice smart risk.
  • Risk-taking is important for a teen’s development. Let teens try new things, but make sure they understand how to stay safe.
  • Taking on new responsibilities like driving or a part time job will help a teen mature. You can lower some risks by making sure that your teen gets safety training when learning new skills.
  • Talk to your teen about how drug and alcohol use affects smart decision making.

It’s about balance…

  • Let teens have enough risk to grow.
  • Teach teens how to manage risk so they’re safe.

The Teen Brain and Risk-Taking

Research shows the brain is still developing until people are in their mid-20s. The pleasure centre of a teen brain develops before the judgment centre. That’s why teens often:

  • don’t recognize the risk in things they do
  • don’t think about bad things that could happen
  • make decisions based on how they feel instead of what they know

Alcohol and Other Drugs

  • Alcohol is the highest used substance by Canadian students in grades 7 to 12, with 40% of students reporting they used alcohol in the past 12 months.
  • Cannabis (marijuana, pot, weed) is the second highest used substance after alcohol. Youth in Canada are some of the top users in the world.

Using alcohol and other drugs can lead to dangerous risks because substances affect:

  • coordination
  • reaction time
  • memory
  • self-control
  • the ability to make good choices

Using alcohol and other drugs increases the risk of:

  • injury
  • death
  • violence
  • suicide
  • unplanned and unprotected sex

Cannabis (marijuana, pot, weed) may change how the brain develops. It can permanently affect learning, memory, and mental health. The younger the people are when they use it and/or the more often people use it, the higher the risk of negative effects.

Online and Social Media Safety

  • Teens use technology in many different ways including texting, gaming, using apps, social networking, and online chatting.
  • Pictures and messages considered private can be shared. This can have negative effects on self-image, mental health, and relationships.
  • Talk to teens about cyberbullying and sexting (sending sexual pictures, messages, videos by smart phone, or other Wi-Fi devices) and encourage them to talk to an adult they trust if something they see or receive upsets them.
  • Set limits about how much screen time is allowed and have consequences if expectations aren’t followed.


Teens need to… Parents can…
Push limits Set limits. Talk about rules and let teens have more freedom so they can show more responsibility.
Make mistakes Expect mistakes. Think of them as a way to learn. When rules are broken, have consequences.
Seek thrills and take risks Give teens a chance to try new things and take smart, but not dangerous risks.
Develop an identity Let teens take on responsibilities. It builds confidence and shows that you trust them.


What you say and do impacts your teen. Be a healthy role model.

  • Always wear a seat belt in the car
  • if you drink alcohol, drink responsibly and don’t drive
  • don’t use drugs – teens are more likely to use marijuana if their family or friends do

Smart Risk

If your teen wants to do something that you think is dangerous, talk about it.

  • Talk together about the pros and cons of what your teen wants to do.
  • Look for ways to make the activity safer. Would training or safety equipment help? A different time or place?
  • Ask your teen why this activity is important. Is there something else that your teen could do that’s not as dangerous?
  • Have some give and take. If you must say “no”, tell your teen why.

Tips for Talking

Talking about choices gives teens a chance to practice making decisions.

  • Talk often about everyday things. Every talk doesn’t have to be a “big talk”.
  • Share your values, expectations, and concerns. Your teen needs to know where you stand.
  • Don’t lecture. Ask teens what they think about things.
  • Use news stories and TV shows as ways to start talking about hard topics like alcohol, drugs, and sex. Compare the risk-taking on TV with what might happen in real life.
  • Eating meals together regularly is a good way to talk about what happened during the day, and it helps you stay connected to your teen.
  • Celebrate success! Let teens know you notice when they do things that show they’re growing up.
  • Remember, even though they may fight you, teens need support and guidance from their parents.


Retrieved from: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/alberta/Pages/teen-risk-taking-tips-for-parents.aspx

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