Category Archives: Resources

New Resources for Collaborative Conversations on Substance Use with Girls and Women

Two new resources are available for health and social service providers to assist them in providing brief intervention on substance use with women and girls. Both were introduced in a June 4th Webinar on the Dialogue to Action on Discussing Alcohol with Women project. The research and consultation arising from this project promote a broader use of brief intervention, in the form of conversations about the health effects of substances and women’s relationship to substance use, not only case finding for problematic use. This is particularly relevant in the context of alcohol use in pregnancy, where any drinking, not only harmful substance and addiction is of concern.

During 13 regional meetings across professions and practice approaches, a common theme emerged:

In general, clinical guidelines recommend that screening be conducted with all women, and that service providers should continue to provide additional information or conduct brief interventions with only the small percentage of women who “screen positive.” This was seen as focusing on women’s behaviour in a way that might be perceived as judgmental or stigmatizing (e.g., “Yes, you are at risk because of _____”) and limiting opportunities to discuss issues connected to women’s substance use (e.g., mental wellness, gender-based violence) with all women. –excerpt from “Doorways to Conversation”

Service providers emphasized that brief interventions were valued as an opportunity to develop open and ongoing dialogue about substance use and interconnected health concerns, whereas screening tools tended to use close-ended questions (e.g., yes/no, # of drinks) and be focussed narrowly on substance use, in ways not necessarily suited to their setting. Doorways to Conversation: Brief Intervention on Substance Use with Girls and Women offers adaptations that providers from a variety of professions and practices can use to begin or enhance their conversations with girls and women. In this way curiosity and learning about the effects of substances can be increased in helpful, non-stigmatizing ways.

50 Brief Intervention Ideas for Dialogue, Skill Building, and Empowerment is an excerpt from the previous resource and serves as a quick reference for providers. The 50 ideas are grouped together according to service type and illustrate how brief interventions can become a natural part of good overall care in a variety of settings: primary care, preconception care, prenatal care, sexual health, anti-violence services, and with various groups: girls and young women, and women and their partners.

With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and FASD National Strategic Project Fund, project goals were to reduce stigma, support engagement in further care and treatment, and improve the overall health and well-being of girls and women. Project evidence summaries and resource lists provided a baseline for discussions on current practices of providers, opportunities to expand brief intervention across roles and profession, and ways to align with child protection practice/policies and perinatal data gathering.

See earlier posts on these topics:



Mothers’ Mental Health Toolkit: A Resource For The Community

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A mother’s mental health is critical to the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of herself and her children. The adjustment to mothering is always a big step in a woman’s personal development. Significant mental and emotional problems are one of the most common complications of childbirth, affecting at least two in ten women.

This toolkit was developed as a public resource for community service providers and families for education, advocacy, and treatment support for mothers with mental health problems. The materials are drawn from general medical and clinical knowledge and the particular experience of the principal developers, together with a wide variety of information in the broad public realm. Included are original descriptions and writing from the author/developers. Where possible effort was made to provide specific acknowledgement of other original sources. As well, we have included general lists of references and resources, print and web-based.  

Click to download full toolkit: mmh-toolkit


Mental Health Commission of Canada: Suicide Prevention Toolkits

MHCCWhat is it  

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, the Centre for Suicide Prevention, and the Public Health Agency of Canada has developed 2 toolkits to support people who have been impacted by suicide. One toolkit is tailored for people who have attempted suicide , and the other is focused on resources for people who have lost someone to suicide . The MHCC wishes to thank the Advisory Committee comprised of people with lived experience related to suicide for their assistance in making these toolkits possible.

In the summer of 2017, the MHCC conducted an online survey to elicit feedback from people who have been affected by suicide. With over a thousand responses, the survey helped gain a better understanding of what topics, content areas, resources, and information were important to include in the toolkits.


Many respondents indicated a preference for “people-first” language as opposed to “survivorship language”. For this reason, “people-first” language is used in the toolkit. That said, many of the resources linked from the toolkits use “survivorship” language.

Please note that the toolkits are not intended to replace a conversation and are not designed to be an exhaustive list of the wide variety of resources available across Canada for support. If you or someone you know is experiencing distressing thoughts or thoughts of suicide, please contact your local distress centre or Kids Help Phone .

Please click images to download the toolkits.

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Journal of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Risk & Prevention


The Journal of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Risk & Prevention strives to serve as an international resource for scientific publications on the epidemiology, neurobiology, psychology and sociology of fetal alcohol toxicity. A strong emphasis will be placed on prevention and risk reduction. 

Message From The Editor: Tom Leibson, MD

The recent decade has fostered an amazing advancement in addiction research, yet we are still far from understanding the entire spectrum of consequences associated with fetal exposure to addictive substances and how to prevent them from happening. This knowledge gap exists despite global multi-disciplinary research and millions of dollars invested in addiction biochemistry, neurology and psychology. Cognizant of the matter, our new journal is designed to attract and showcase novel data regarding the most common teratogenic drug of abuse – alcohol.

This dedicated publication venue is not meant to replace existing journals but rather allow the community of clinicians and scientists who are interested in the clinical implications of fetal alcohol research findings to prioritize discussions concerning risk stratification and prevention of fetal alcohol harm.

Over the years several key assumptions had been challenged in our field and one that is most fascinating addresses the role of parental contribution to the fetal alcohol spectrum of clinical findings and outcomes. Once attributed solely to the molecular toxicity of alcohol, it is now becoming more evident that FASD has strong associations to parental mental health and the early years exposure to parental behaviours. As the pendulum swings, we may see a gradual shift from defining alcohol as a toxin exclusively to viewing it also as a biomarker of parental distress so profound that its impact crosses from generation to generation.

I congratulate the authors who have joined us for this exciting journey and have contributed their science to the launching issue of the Journal of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Risk and Prevention. I expect to see an ongoing involvement and interest of the entire medical community in this rapidly growing research area, and most importantly I am sincerely hoping that our joint effort will have a positive impact on the lives of our patients and their families.

For more information on the journal and to sign up for the publishing notification service for this journal, please click Register link. This registration will result in the reader receiving the Table of Contents by email for each new issue of the journal. 

Alberta Abuse Line


If you suspect that an Albertan is being abused or neglected, Alberta has a provincial abuse line. 

Who to call

If you suspect an adult or child is being abused or neglected, help is just a phone call away.

The provincial abuse helpline will connect you to resources, supports, services, and referrals to address your concerns. Callers can remain anonymous.

Call 1-855-4HELPAB (1-855-443-5722)

Hours of operation: 7:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday

Call 911 if someone is in immediate danger.

What to expect

  • Anyone can call the abuse helpline to share concerns about alleged abuse or neglect.
  • Be prepared to provide as much detailed information as you can about the alleged abuse or neglect.
  • If you’re calling with concerns about another person, you don’t have to provide your name and contact information. However, it would be helpful in case there are additional questions.
  • After listening to your concern, your call will be directed to the appropriate service or support.
  • If the person you are concerned about already accesses provincial supports, Community and Social Services will follow up with the individual to offer additional help.

Signs of abuse or neglect

Actions causing discomfort, pain or injury.
Examples include hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking.
Actions or statements causing anguish, fear or diminished self-esteem or dignity.
Examples include threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating.
Non-consensual sexual contact, activity or behaviour.
Examples include unwanted or inappropriate touching.
Fraud, trickery or theft involving labour, money or property.
Examples include misusing a person’s funds or assets.
Failure to provide the basic level of care, such as food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment.

Not sure?

If you think someone is being abused or neglected, but you’re not sure, call the abuse helpline to discuss your concerns.

If you have reasonable and probable grounds to believe a child is being harmed or is in danger of being harmed, you have an obligation to report it. 

Alberta Supports Contact Centre

The provincial abuse helpline is operated by the Alberta Supports Contact Centre.

Help is available in more than 100 languages.

Hours of operation: 7:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday

Alberta’s DrinkSense

logo_drinksense_socialIn Alberta, alcohol is so much a part of social events that it is not usually thought of as a drug. However, alcohol is a drug, albeit a legal one, and it is also the drug that Albertans use the most. For example, in the 12 months preceding the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS), 76.2% of Albertans aged 15 and over used alcohol.

Most Albertans who drink do so responsibly. The proportion that drinks harmfully varies by age group. This resource will discuss the use of alcohol in Alberta, the factors that affect the use of alcohol, and the consequences of use. 
Alcohol use by age group in Alberta in 2012

For more information on alcohol in Alberta please click the image to download the resource!

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Resources: Sex, Gender, Tobacco

Sex-related factors affect the biological responses to tobacco use and treatments, and gendered factors such as social, cultural and economic norms, relationships and opportunities affect smoking initiation, patterns of use, cessation and responses to tobacco policies, for men, women, boys and girls.

These information sheets, produced through the support of the Education and Training Council, Alberta FASD Cross Ministry Committee and reviewed by experts from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and the Canada FASD Research Network, are part of several resources developed as part of the Trauma/Gender/Substance Use (TGS) project made possible by funding from Health Canada.

Click images to download information sheets.

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