Category Archives: News

‘Pinking’ of alcohol marketing spurs culture of ‘wine moms,’ says author Ann Dowsett Johnston

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When it comes to women and drinking, sometimes a glass of wine isn’t just a glass of wine, says journalist and author Ann Dowsett Johnston.

“Wine has become the code for ‘I deserve it, parenting is hard, I need to decompress,'” says the Toronto-based author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.

That’s also led to the concerning rise of the culture of “wine moms,” Johnston says, with wines featuring names like “Girl’s Night Out” or wine glasses with “Mom Juice” written on them.

“You see mommy wine festivals … you see moms and yoga and wine [events], you see painting and wine, you see mani-pedis and wine.… I would argue that most women see wine as a food group and as a decompression tool,” she said.

“There’s an enormous sense of self-medication.… The fastest thing you can do at the cutting board is open a bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass. It’s faster than going to your doctor to say ‘I’m suffering from burnout,’ it’s faster than going to a yoga class and relaxing in a different way.”

It was more than 10 years ago when Johnston finally realized that she herself had a drinking problem.

“I got into trouble with alcohol in my 50s when I was over-performing at a job and used alcohol for self-medication,” she said.

Even though Johnston knew she was getting into trouble with her drinking, “it took two family members and a sweetheart who confronted me, and luckily I took a sledgehammer and went to rehab and I’m in my 10th year of sobriety,” she said in an interview with CBC’s Information Radio.

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‘In Canada, we’ve seen a statistically sturdy increase’ in women’s drinking since the early 2000s, says Johnston. (anndowsettjohnston.com)

Johnston’s experience not only led her to rehab and sobriety, it also gave her insight into the connections between women and alcohol, which she discusses in Drink.

Men still consume more alcohol than women, according to the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba, but Johnston said there has been a recent rise in how much women are drinking.

“Women are drinking far more than they used to.… In Canada, we’ve seen a statistically sturdy increase” in women’s drinking since the early 2000s, said Johnston.

‘Mom can’t cope unless she’s drunk’

She believes that one of the biggest contributing factors to the rise of drinking among women has been marketing.

There’s been a “pinking” of the market since the mid-1990s, Johnston said, with the invention of “alcopop,” drinks like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice that are typically marketed to women — “what I like to call ‘chick beer’ or ‘cocktails with training wheels,’ an attempt to get the female gender to keep up with men.”

But that kind of marketing hasn’t focused only on fruity-tasting drinks for women, said Sheri Fandrey, who heads up the Addictions Foundation Manitoba’s knowledge exchange services. Many other products besides alcohol are marketed to women by using their own insecurities, she said.

‘[Children] are picking up on the fact that their parents, especially their moms, have to be anaesthetized to deal with them, and I think that sends a subtle but dangerous message to our young people.’– Sheri Fandrey, Addictions Foundation Manitoba

“We’re being influenced and manipulated in such subtle ways that we see it more as fun and a joke, and don’t realize that it is actually shifting people’s behaviour,” she said.

But there are some unintended consequences that come with marketing wine to mothers, says Fandrey — while the marketing might be intended for them, the parents aren’t the only people who see it.

Children also see and hear those messages, and get the impression that their mothers have to drink to deal with them, she says.

“[Children] are picking up on the fact that their parents, especially their moms, have to be anaesthetized to deal with them, and I think that sends a subtle but dangerous message to our young people — ‘Mom can’t cope unless she’s drunk,'” Fandrey said.

“It’s giving adults the sense that we can’t possibly cope with the stress and certainly can’t cope with child-related stress without alcohol, and for the kids, they’re picking up on it,” says Fandrey.

Binge drinking

Using alcohol as a nightly coping mechanism is not the only drinking habit that is on the rise, she says — there’s also been a rise in risky drinking behaviour, like binge drinking.

“It used to be the realm of men to get stupid drunk and to do really foolish things under the influence,” but now women are starting to engage in that kind of dangerous drinking, Fandrey said.

Heavy or binge drinking is defined as having several drinks in one sitting: five or more drinks for a male, and four or more for a female, at least once a month in the past year.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, nearly 25 per cent of Canadians males and 13 per cent of females over age 12 reported heavy drinking.

Fandrey believes this type of drinking is still a way to cope with a stressful life, but with a “save it for the weekend” mentality.

‘If you want to know if you’re getting into trouble, ask yourself … are you drinking to numb? To numb feelings, to numb stress, to numb depression or anxiety?’– Ann Dowsett Johnston

“When people tell me what their reasons are for using substances like alcohol, you know, it makes sense in the short term for someone who’s feeling anxious and stressed to have that slight sense of numbness. There is a short term anti-anxiety effect from alcohol,” she said.

In the long term, though, alcohol contributes to depression, she said.

“It all seems OK, and there seems to be benefits and you don’t really look beyond that into what it might add up to in the weeks and months and years.”

There are very real dangers to physical health as well, says Johnston.

“We pay a lot of attention to the opioid crisis in Canada, and so we should, but the truth of the matter is more people are dying of alcohol every year than any drug overdose.”

Johnston also says not everyone who has a drinking problem will be able to see it.

“If you want to know if you’re getting into trouble, ask yourself two things: are you drinking to numb? To numb feelings, to numb stress, to numb depression or anxiety?” she said.

“And secondly, if you kept a drinking diary and said ‘tonight I’m only going to have one or I’m going to have zero,’ could you keep your promise? If you can’t you should really talk to your doctor and have a hard look at your drinking.”

CBC News Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ann-johnston-women-wine-moms-1.4517510

OPINION: Social workers often face impossible tasks (not just in Nova Scotia…across Canada)

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ALEC STRATFORD
January 12, 2018 – 5:30pm

The Chronicle Herald printed a front-page story on Jan. 4 about a Family Court judge who dismissed the province’s request to take a 20-month-old girl into permanent custody, ruling the child’s safety won’t be jeopardized by staying with her troubled family.

In her decision, Justice Elizabeth Jollimore writes: “There is a difference between parents who are poor, and poor parents. Ms. C and Mr. S are parents who are poor.”

This is an extraordinarily important distinction to make.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) recently released the 2017 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Nova Scotia. The report states that one in five Nova Scotian children lives in poverty. Our province has done a poor job of achieving the goal of eradicating poverty for children by the year 2000.

In addition, the auditor general’s report on the state of mental health care services in Nova Scotia states that one in five Canadians will have a mental health care issue, and then it goes on to identify many crucial problems within the current system.

Both sources highlight that our province’s social structures do not meet the needs of the people. Our systems continue to penalize those who are the most vulnerable to the shortcomings of these systems.

The recent Child and Family Service Act changes expanded the definition of neglect. The former minister of Community Services, Joanne Bernard, stated at the time that she was bringing the amendments through the legislature, as these changes were needed to keep children in their homes and to provide support before the family is in a crisis.

The assumption was made that families have timely access to relevant and quality resources to address child protection concerns like neglect, when in fact, as the CCPA-NS Child and the auditor general’s report points out, these services are too often unavailable.

Social workers engage with the most vulnerable in our society. They have the knowledge and skills to competently perform assessments, interventions, negotiations, mediations, advocacy and evaluations. They are trained in inter-professional practice, community collaboration and teamwork. They can tell the difference between intrapersonal issues and structural issues. Social workers labour in solidarity with vulnerable populations to address intrapersonal issues and to empathetically connect with clients on the impacts of structural issues affecting their lives.

But even the most ethical, empathic and altruistic social worker cannot begin to keep children safe in Nova Scotia without the fundamental tools to do so. Without these tools, social workers often find themselves facing the seemingly impossible scenarios of trying to keep children safe.

It is no wonder so many social workers face record levels of burnout. This is the equivalent of asking a doctor to perform a surgery without the proper surgical tools, medical supports or hospital infrastructure, or asking a highway worker to build a highway without bulldozers and shovels.

We need to address the deep structural inequities that exist in our province and reimagine our current political economy to keep children safe.

To do this, we must have meaningful debate and advocate for structural change to address the following:

The culture of affluence that allows the top 100 CEOs in Canada to make more money by 10:57 a.m. on Jan. 2 than most Nova Scotian workers will make this year. When the culture of affluence is left unchecked and the concerns of the oppressed go unnoticed, there is eroded trust and increased anxiety and illness, which have a lasting impact on a range of social issues.

The need to work towards the public good. We must make real and sustainable investments in areas such as housing, mental health, food security and domestic violence.

The legacies of colonialism and racism. We must work in solidarity towards liberation from the effects of oppressive behavioural patterns and work to “unlearn” oppressive attitudes and assumptions.

Work towards greater democratic participation, building structures that allow Nova Scotians to hold their government accountable, increase meaningful participation in government policy creation to advance the common good. We believe this province is in desperate need of a Child Youth Advocate Office that could facilitate this process in child protection matters.

Ultimately, Justice Jollimore’s decision reinforces that we cannot continue to penalize those who are oppressed by a system that we are collectively responsible for. Her decision again reminds us that the cycle of abuse, poverty and neglect are ours as Nova Scotians to change.

Alec Stratford is registrar / executive director of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers.

Retrieved from http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1536261-opinion-social-workers-often-face-impossible-tasks

FIFTH ESTATE: Motherisk hair test evidence tossed out of Colorado court 2 decades before questions raised in Canada

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By Lisa Mayor, John Chipman, CBC News

A U.S. court laid out extensive problems with how hair-strand tests were being done at the Motherisk Drug Testing Lab at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto more than two decades before similar issues were uncovered in Canada.

A joint investigation by The Fifth Estate, CBC Radio’s The Current and the Toronto Star uncovered a capital murder trial in Colorado in which Motherisk’s tests were found to be “not competent evidence” and thrown out in 1993.

But the lab’s work continued to be used in Canadian courts and relied upon in thousands of child protection cases, including ones in which children were permanently removed from their parents.

From 1991 until 2015, Motherisk was performing what have now been determined to be unreliable and inadequate drug and alcohol tests on thousands of members of vulnerable families across Canada, with the results in some cases leading to child welfare decisions to separate children from their parents.

Child welfare agencies in five provinces across Canada paid for Motherisk’s hair-strand tests, believing they were hard scientific proof of substance abuse.

The Ontario government appointed retired Court of Appeal justice Susan Lang to investigate the lab’s procedures and protocols after a series of investigations by the Toronto Star revealed problems with the tests. Lang’s inquiry was completed in December 2015.

Through that investigation, it was determined that Motherisk’s results were unreliable and inadequate opinions from scientists who operated without any forensic training or oversight.

Colorado case

Two decades before the Ontario government launched its investigation into Motherisk’s hair-strand tests, Julia Klein, Motherisk’s de facto lab manager at the time, testified at an admissibility hearing in a 1993 death penalty case in Colorado.

Allen Thomas Jr. had been charged with raping and stabbing to death the grandmother of his ex-girlfriend. He faced the death penalty if convicted.

One of the defence strategies if Thomas Jr. was found guilty was to argue that he was so high on cocaine at the time he was incapable of committing intentional, premeditated murder, which was required for the death penalty in Colorado.

The defence would need to prove that he was taking cocaine at the time, and Motherisk was one of the few labs doing hair tests for drugs and alcohol in North America.

The Motherisk hair test results appeared to show Thomas Jr. was taking 55 grams of cocaine per month at the time of the killing.

Sick Kids hospital sign

Questions about the science of hair testing began after serious shortcomings were found at the Motherisk lab at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. (CBC)

 

This case is the earliest known example of Motherisk’s hair tests being used in a criminal court.

The defence in the case wanted to introduce the hair test Motherisk had done on the defendant, but Justice Donald Marshall wouldn’t allow it. In his decision, the judge laid out many of the same deficiencies at the lab that would be uncovered in Ontario more than two decades later.

Marshall ruled Motherisk’s tests results were “not competent evidence.”

“He found that it was not reliable,” said Eva Wilson, district attorney on the case.

“I really appreciated his analogy: this reminded him of someone shooting at a target with a bow and arrow, and that Miss Klein shot the arrow, the arrow landed and she then drew the bulls eye around the arrow, a big round circle, to show it met its mark.”

Klein declined repeated requests for an interview and wouldn’t answer specific questions sent to her.

Red flags

The Colorado case arose in the joint investigation by The Fifth Estate, The Current and the Toronto Star during a review of a 2009 court case in Toronto. In that case, comments were made by Dr. Gideon Koren, the founder and longtime director of the Motherisk lab.

In that case in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, Tamara Broomfield was convicted of assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault endangering life, failing to provide the necessities of life and administering a noxious substance with the intent to endanger life after allegedly feeding her two-year-old son near-lethal doses of cocaine.

Koren told the court the lab’s expertise and Motherisk’s tests had been “accepted by the courts in different jurisdictions,” including Canada and the U.S.

“About 10 years ago, Your Honour, we were asked by the Colorado court in a case of murder to test hair for cocaine in an individual who claimed to being addicted to the drug, and to the best of my knowledge, our results, not were just accepted, but had an impact on the judgment,” Koren testified.

Eva Wilson

Eva Wilson was the prosecutor in a 1993 Colorado murder trial where Motherisk lab tests were deemed inadmissible. (Jack Dempsey/Toronto Star)

 

The Fifth Estate, The Current and the Toronto Star scoured legal databases and contacted Colorado district attorneys and criminal defenders, but were unable to find any Colorado criminal proceeding in which Motherisk’s evidence was accepted.

Daniel Brown, a Toronto criminal lawyer who represented Broomfield in the early stages of her appeal, reviewed the Colorado hearing.

“Dr. Koren’s testimony in the Broomfield case appears to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the presiding judge about the widespread acceptance of Motherisk’s hair testing procedures in criminal courtrooms throughout the continent,” said Brown, who is a Toronto region director with the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

“Dr. Koren wasn’t the doctor who testified in Colorado but you would have thought that he would have been keenly aware of what had happened,” Brown said.

“The fact that he would come to court 20 years later and suggest that that evidence was accepted in that Colorado courtroom was surprising. It seems to be misleading and it certainly warrants a perjury investigation if he deliberately tried to mislead the judge about the scope of the Motherisk evidence and how it’s been accepted across the continent.”

Koren did not respond to emails seeking comment for this story.

Broomfield was initially sentenced to seven years in prison.

In October 2014, after new evidence surfaced that questioned the accuracy of Motherisk’s results, Broomfield’s cocaine-related convictions were overturned.

Ontario investigation

Later that year, the Ontario government launched the investigation into Motherisk’s lab procedures and protocols headed by Lang.

“I considered it a tragedy that it’s not good for our justice system that we’re relying on forensic evidence that is unreliable and inadequate,” she said in an interview with The Fifth Estate.

“It’s a tragedy for the families, it’s a tragedy for the parents who may have lost temporarily or otherwise contact with their child, it’s really a tragedy for the children.”

Dr. Gideon Koren

Dr. Gideon Koren, seen in 1999, retired from SickKids in 2015 when the hospital closed the Motherisk lab. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)

 

In Klein’s testimony in the Colorado case, it appeared she didn’t understand what constituted forensic testing.

Wilson, the prosecutor, was shocked.

“She talked about forensic labs, [saying] their test samples come from dead people,” Wilson said.

“That’s not true. There’s a lot of living people whose blood and urine and semen, and body tissues and fluids, are being tested by forensic labs, thank goodness, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to charge people with driving under the influence of drugs unless they were dead.

“She was really off base with all of that.”

The Motherisk lab has always insisted its tests were meant to be only clinical in nature and not forensic.

Clinical tests are mainly meant for patient care — accuracy is important, but so is speed. Forensic labs do tests for legal purposes, such as DNA or fingerprints, and do this for more than just criminal matters.

Justice Susan Lang

The Ontario government appointed retired justice Susan Lang to investigate the procedures and protocols of the Motherisk hair test lab. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star)

 

“They need to be right,” Lang said. “They don’t just need to be right in criminal law; they need to be right in family law. And a lot of people didn’t see family law as forensic work.… That isn’t good enough.

“Losing your child is the capital punishment of child protection law. You need to have these test results done right.”

Koren has been named in at least 11 lawsuits, including a proposed class action suit.

In his statement of defence in one of the lawsuits, Koren said Motherisk’s hair tests were “adequate and reliable for their intended purpose” and were meant to provide “information relevant to the medical care and safety of children.”

For its part, the Hospital for Sick Children has apologized for the Motherisk tests.

“We deeply regret that practices in and oversight of this particular program did not meet SickKids standards of excellence,” Dr. Michael Apkon, president and CEO of SickKids, said in a public statement on its website.

“We remain resolved in our efforts to ensure that we have effective oversight and the highest standards of quality and safety in all of our programs.”

Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/motherisk-colorado-court-case-1.4364862 

Message from the Minister of Health – International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day 2017

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Statements

International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is marked annually on September 9 to raise awareness about the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy and about the challenges that individuals with FASD and their families face.

FASD is a brain injury that can occur when an unborn baby is exposed to alcohol in the womb and the result is a lifelong disorder with effects that include physical, mental and behavioural disabilities. FASD is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disabilities among Canadians.

Children and adults living with FASD, often encounter a great deal of stigma and judgement. This stigma can keep women from openly discussing alcohol consumption with their health care providers, preventing them from accessing the programs, services, and supports they need.

Many factors can contribute to FASD, and there is no single solution to preventing it. That is why the Government of Canada is partnering with provincial and territorial governments, communities, Indigenous organizations and experts to support a variety of education and prevention initiatives.

For example, we are funding five projects that focus on developing knowledge and skills among health professionals on how to screen, counsel and discuss alcohol use with girls and women. The goal of these projects is to help prevent alcohol use during pregnancy and to promote behaviours that set the conditions for lifelong health. We are also supporting the Kids’ Brain Health Network to provide health care professionals, policy makers, caregivers and families with tools and information to promote earlier diagnosis, better treatment and optimal outcomes for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including FASD.

In order to increase awareness of FASD among First Nations and Inuit communities, as well as educate front-line workers, our government is also developing culturally appropriate prevention and intervention programs that educate and raise awareness about the impacts of FASD. We  are also exploring opportunities to advance the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #33 and #34 related to FASD by working in collaboration with Indigenous people to implement preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

By working together, we can encourage healthy pregnancies and support those living with FASD. This month, learn more about FASD prevention and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #FASD.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

During Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month, experts underscore danger of drinking while pregnant

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Kris Rife adopted her son as a baby more 20 years ago but didn’t find out until he was 14 that he had probably been exposed to alcohol in his birth mother’s womb.

In retrospect, the diagnosis of a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder made sense, she said. His fifth-grade teacher suspected he might suffer from fetal alcohol exposure. But Rife shrugged off the teacher’s concerns. Her son had none of the distinct facial features associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, such as a flat nose bridge or a thin upper lip. His doctors didn’t think he was at risk.

But he did struggle behaviorally and developmentally. He had trouble remembering things and controlling his temper, grasping concepts involving space and time. He would forget to think through what he said before he said it. That’s why Rife and her husband, who live in Mount Pleasant, thought their son might have autism.

Then, during an autism evaluation at the University of Utah, a birth defects expert noticed that his head was a little small, which is another, more subtle sign of fetal alcohol exposure.

That expert also noted that Rife’s son, a teenager at that point, was very personable, even among strangers, a personality trait at odds with some autism spectrum disorders. All of those clues informed the final diagnosis.

“It was horrible,” Rife said. “They’re still babies at 14.”

Nearly a decade after her son’s diagnosis, Rife now pours her time and energy into advocacy. She is trying to raise awareness about the dangers of fetal alcohol exposure through the S.C. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Collaborative, an undertaking made more difficult by the fact that the state government invests little money to address the problem. One state employee at the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs spends about 15 percent of her time working on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, Rife said. She thinks the issue deserves more attention.

“When people think it’s not a big problem, it’s because it’s not recognized,” she said.

Rife specifically wants to sound a call to women that no amount of alcohol is known to be safe during pregnancy. But she conceded that her message is different from the advice of some doctors who assure their pregnant patients an occasional drink won’t harm their babies.

“It is very frustrating,” Rife said. “There is not the science that says you cannot have one drink during pregnancy. You can’t prove that. But we can tell you that you might have a problem with a child if you have one drink. Do you want to take that risk?”

Last year, leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posed the same question.

The agency told health care providers that they should warn their patients of child-bearing age “not to drink at all if she is pregnant, trying to get pregnant or sexually active and not using birth control.”

Agency officials explained that most women expose their unborn children to alcohol in the womb before they even realize they are pregnant. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned each year. Often, when a woman first finds out she is pregnant, the damage has already been done.

But unanticipated backlash to the CDC advisory was intense. One critic, in Time, called the recommendation a “scare tactic” and accused the CDC of prioritizing an unborn fetus over a “woman’s right to her own body.” Professors from Harvard and Yale wrote in the Boston Globe that the agency’s advisory “damages its credibility as a source of clear, balanced advice about health risks.”

 Dr. Connie Guille, a reproductive psychiatrist who works with pregnant patients at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said conflicting information regarding what’s safe and what’s not can be confusing for patients.
“It’s one of those controversies that will just continue to cycle through,” Guille said.

Scientists will never be able to study fetal alcohol exposure in a randomized, controlled clinical trial, the industry’s gold standard, because such a study would be unethical, she said.

“What we’re kind of left with is looking at studies that do demonstrate very clearly that there is risk associated with alcohol use in pregnancy,” she said.

The general public may not realize fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are so problematic and so prevalent because the majority of cases are never diagnosed, Guille said. And most people who suffer from one of these disorders do not have any of the distinct facial features associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders may affect up to 4.8 percent of all children. And Guille cited studies that have shown, for example, the rates of these disorders are quite common among prisoners.

“The impact goes well beyond the individual,” she said. “This has a big impact on our society as well.”

September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Month.

Retrieved from: http://www.postandcourier.com/features/your_health/during-fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders-awareness-month-experts-underscore-danger/article_0464032e-930d-11e7-8ce1-2f6f85dfc739.html

Partnership aims to reduce alcohol harms on Canadian campuses

College-Drinking

Thirty-six universities and colleges have teamed up with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and Universities Canada in an effort to curb high-risk drinking. The Postsecondary Partnership – Alcohol Harms (PEP-AH), as it’s called, is connecting students and administrators with health experts to create campus programs to reduce harms related to binge drinking.

While Canadian universities have individually been grappling with the issue for decades, this partnership represents a more collaborative approach, said Scott Duguay, co-chair of PEP-AH and associate vice-president, enrolment management, at St. Thomas University. “We’re offering resources and ideas and best practices but allowing a lot of space for individual members to build their own plans,” Mr. Duguay said. “We strongly encourage institutions that are partners to have a campus team that oversees alcohol harm reduction programming.”

A 2016 survey of 43,780 students from 41 Canadian campuses affirmed the challenges institutions face with the prevalence of binge drinking. More than a third of students surveyed reported having five or more drinks the last time they partied or socialized, and many reported physically injuring themselves (18 percent), having unprotected sex (24 percent), forgetting where they were or what they did (29 percent) and doing something they later regretted (38 percent) due to alcohol.

“PEP-AH is not concerned with the drinking per se, but the harms associated with it,” said Catherine Paradis, co-chair of PEP-AH and senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, which has received funding from Health Canada for this initiative. Ms. Paradis led the creation of a framework for campus programs to reduce alcohol harms. She recommends that institutions adopt at least one recommendation in each of five strategic areas, depending on the needs and structure of their campus. “Drinking is a social behaviour that happens in a larger context,” she said. “Each university or college has its own history and its own culture and policies.”

PEP-AH grew out of discussions since 2013, when former Acadia University president Ray Ivany rallied the support of university presidents to look at campus drinking culture. Mr. Ivany became passionate about the issue after having to deliver news of 19-year-old Acadia student Jonathan Andrews’ death following a night of binge drinking in residence. It was an event after which “our campus changed forever,” Mr. Ivany had said.

This past June, student affairs staff, administrators and students met for a one-day conference during CACUSS, the national conference of student affairs professionals across Canada, to share best practices and challenges. The dialogue will continue into 2018 and includes four student symposia in Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada in advance of the national meeting. It was recognized that “students were at the heart of this if it was going to work, but we needed presidential level approval and support,” Mr. Duguay said. “At the end of the day, students are the experts in the experience itself.”

Cam Yung, PEP-AH’s student representative for Ontario and rector at Queen’s University, echoed that sentiment (the rector position at Queen’s is held by a student and is elected by students). Queen’s has had an alcohol working group for almost 20 years and recently hosted PEP-AH’s Ontario student symposium. “Students react better when they have peers there to lead and provide guidance,” Mr. Yung said. “When we have students educating students, and not a top-down approach of administration trying to educate students about alcohol harms, that is a way more effective solution.”

Retrieved from: http://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/partnership-aims-reduce-alcohol-harms-canadian-campuses/?_cldee=bGlzYS5yb2dvemluc2t5QGNzc2FsYmVydGEuY2E%3d&recipientid=contact-fb04ede4f1d1e6118105480fcfeaa931-592f0b40e3a14e8397a87a210a497178&esid=37b2b683-5e83-e711-811e-480fcfeab9c1

HEALTH REPORT: Concurrent mental and substance use disorders in Canada

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Individuals who have both a mental and substance use disorder at the same time are more likely to experience poor psychological health, use more health services and report unmet needs than a person with only one type of disorder.

These findings are from a new study on the prevalence of concurrent disorders in Canada, released in today’s Health Reports. The study is the first to use the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey—Mental Health to examine the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health status and health care service use of people with concurrent disorders. The study estimates that 282,000, or 1.2% of Canadians aged 15 to 64, experienced mental and substance use disorders concurrently in the previous year, that is, at least one mood/anxiety disorder and at least one substance use disorder.

Almost all (91%) of those with concurrent disorders reported high psychological distress, significantly more than those with a mood/anxiety (79%) or a substance use (34%) disorder alone.

Overall, individuals with concurrent disorders were more likely (76%) to use health services, such as care for mental health or substance use, compared with those who had a mood/anxiety (67%) or substance use (21%) disorder alone. Despite higher use, these individuals had greater odds of reporting unmet or partially met needs for mental health care after controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors and number of chronic conditions.

For more information please visit:

Concurrent mental and substance use disorders in Canada” is now available in the August 2017 online issue of Health Reports, Vol. 28, no. 8 (Catalogue number82-003-X).

This issue of Health Reports also contains the article, “Needs for mobility devices, home modifications and personal assistance among Canadians with disabilities.”

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