Category Archives: Resources

Alberta Family Wellness Initiative: BRAIN STORY CERTIFICATION (FREE)



Lifelong health is determined by more than just our genes: experiences at sensitive periods of development change the brain in ways that increase or decrease risk for later physical and mental illness, including addiction. That finding is the premise of the Brain Story, which puts scientific concepts into a narrative that is salient to both expert and non-expert audiences. The Brain Story synthesizes decades of research and reflects a body of knowledge that experts agree is useful for policy-makers and citizens to understand.

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) has developed an online course to make Brain Story science available to professionals and the public. Brain Story Certification is designed for those seeking a deeper understanding of brain development and its consequences for lifelong health. The course is also designed for professionals seeking certification in a wide range of fields.

Click to download course content: BRST101-CourseOutline

To register or for more information please visit:


Introduction to Women’s Health Indicators

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Having a comprehensive picture of the health of a population is critical to guiding health research, policy and programs. Such a picture is created by collecting data on a range of health measures – health indicators – that can be pooled together and analyzed to describe, compare and monitor patterns of mortality (deaths), morbidity (illness, disease), wellness, and health-affecting factors (personal behaviours, resources such as housing and systemic influences such as the availability of care). To understand women’s health, this information must be available and should be analyzed by sex and by gender. Sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is recognized internationally and by the Canadian government as a critical component of sound health planning. According to Government of Canada policy, SGBA is used “to ensure that the initiatives and activities of the Health Portfolio lead to sound science, ensure gender equality and are effective and efficient”.

To understand women’s health, this information must be available and should be analyzed by sex and by gender. Sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) is recognized internationally and by the Canadian government as a critical component of sound health planning. According to Government of Canada policy, SGBA is used “to ensure that the initiatives and activities of the Health Portfolio lead to sound science, ensure gender equality and are effective and efficient”.

Canadian Women’s Health Indicators: An Introduction, Environmental Scan, and Framework Examination has been developed to introduce the concepts and context of work done in the area of women’s health indicators in Canada. This introduction includes an overview of what is meant by women’s health indicators and the rationale behind their use. This material is followed by a brief introduction to indicator frameworks, which are explained more fully in the following pages.

Click to download document: Womenshealthindicators_review_final

The Best Alcoholism Apps of the Year

Healthline has selected these apps based on their quality, user reviews, and overall reliability as a source of support for people living with alcoholism. If you want to nominate an app for this list, email Healthline at

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older have alcoholism.

Staying sober requires a tremendous amount of personal strength, psychological treatment, and reliable support along the way. Addiction is a complex disease and affects people in different ways. While not a substitute for treatment, these apps can serve as tools for additional positive reinforcement and accountability.

Stop Drinking with Andrew Johnson

iPhone rating:

4 stars$2.99

Android rating:

4.5 stars$2.99

Andrew Johnson’s app is designed for heavy drinkers who are trying to either cut back or stop drinking altogether. It uses hypnotherapy, positive suggestions, and visualization to help you achieve your goal. You can set reminders throughout the day for times when you may need some help relaxing and refocusing.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day

iPhone rating:

5 stars$5.99

Android rating:

5 stars$5.99

This app is based on the best-selling book of the same name. It’s been helping people with sobriety for years. The app offers 366 daily meditations from the book at your fingertips, making it easier for people to have help between meetings or anytime it’s needed. Many of the meditations include prayer and religious teachings. The newest update gives phone users the ability to share its daily messages by text.

AlcoDroid Alcohol Tracker

Android rating:

4.5 starsFree

AlcoDroid tracks your alcohol consumption, making it a good possible starting point if you suspect you misuse alcohol. Use it to log your drinks and see how often you’re drinking. The app will also give an estimated blood alcohol content based on your log. It can be set to track how much you spend on drinks as well.

12 Steps AA Companion

iPhone rating:

3.5 stars$2.99

Android rating:

4.5 stars$1.99

This app is based on the 12-step program from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Each step represents part of the healing and recovery process. You get the Big Book of AA at your fingertips, with prayers, promises, and the ability to highlight and share text. A sobriety calculator keeps track of how many years, months, days, and hours you’ve been sober.

I Am Sober

iPhone rating:

4 stars$1.99

Every day of sobriety is a victory. Reminding yourself of how much you’ve accomplished can help you stay on track. This app keeps track of these victories, including how long you’ve been sober and how much money you’ve saved by not buying alcohol. It notifies you when you reach new milestones and lets you set times to get daily notifications on your progress.


iPhone rating:

4 starsFree

Anxiety and depression are often closely linked to alcoholism. Happify is designed to help you learn positive ways to cope with these moods instead of engaging in unhealthy behaviors. The app includes over 30 audio recordings. They’ll guide you toward positive thoughts. The recordings use evidence-based techniques shown to work in positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

iPhone rating:

4 starsFree

Android rating:

3.5 starsFree

This app wasn’t specifically designed for addiction, but it’s made to help you set a goal and work toward it. You can use it to help limit or quit drinking, track sober days, or as a way to practice new healthy habits, like getting regular exercise. uses the power of positive reinforcement to help you achieve your goals and feel good about it.


iPhone rating:

4 starsFree

SoberTool is designed specifically for people with alcoholism. It combines several features seen in the other apps we’ve mentioned. It tracks both days sober and money saved. There’s also a community forum where you can share messages as well as daily motivational messages and reminders to read them. One of its most unique tools is the ability to help you develop the best personalized relapse prevention based on a few questions in the app.

nomo – Sobriety Clocks

iPhone rating:

4.5 starsFree

Android rating:

4.5 starsFree

This app was actually created by someone in recovery to help himself keep on track and motivated. Set sobriety clocks to track how long it’s been since your last drink in this app. You can also find accountability partners and share your information with them. Earn chips for recovery milestones, too. The app even has little distraction exercises to help your mind refocus during intense cravings.


iPhone rating:

3.5 starsFree

Android rating:

4 starsFree

Whether you’re stopping drinking altogether or trying to cut back, a good support system can be a big help. Daybreak is designed to help you connect with a supportive community as well as health and well-being coaches. You can track your progress with weekly check-ins or set notifications for when you think you’ll need check-ins.

Sober Grid

iPhone rating:

5 starsFree

Android rating:

4 starsFree

Making new connections during recovery can be important. Sober Grid is a social network for sobriety. In addition to tracking your days sober, the app helps you find other sober people both near you and around the world to share and chat with. Choose to remain anonymous and share as much or as little as you like.


Android rating:

4 starsFree

Flipd is another app that’s not made specifically for addiction, but it does help you focus and practice productivity. Use it to block distractions and help yourself refocus on important tasks. The app primarily focuses on stepping away from your phone to unwind, engaging in other activities, and avoiding procrastination. It actually locks you out of your phone during designated times, except for making outbound emergency calls and receiving incoming calls.


iPhone rating:

4.5 stars$1.99

There isn’t just one approach to recovery. It often requires several tools to keep you on course. This app is designed to keep you accountable for your own behavior by logging your “lights” — red for “acting out,” yellow for “warning,” and green for “way to go.” The idea behind this is that you can’t change your behavior until you recognize it. This app aims to help you do both.

Field Guide to Life

iPhone rating:

4 stars$7.99

Android rating:

4 stars$7.99

The first steps are often the hardest. While Field Guide was designed for people new to addiction recovery, it can be used at any stage. The app focuses on taking things one day at a time with daily inspiring messages and activities, a sobriety counter that can be seen every time you open the app, and videos featuring recovery experts. You can also store up to five images of people or things that keep you motivated to stay sober.



Retrieved from:

FASD Justice and Reconciliation: Tough Questions, New Collaborations

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Final Report- FASD Justice & Reconciliation (final 07-17)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe a spectrum of physical, neurological, cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural impairments that may result from prenatal exposure to alcohol. In addition to these impairments, secondary challenges (such as involvement with the criminal justice system) may be experienced in the absence of appropriate supports and services. FASD is often discussed in the context of the criminal justice system, as individuals with FASD are understood to be overrepresented in the justice system.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released 94 Calls to Action, directed at various levels of government and to all Canadians. TRC Calls to Action 33 and 34 specifically address FASD. The Calls to Action provided an opportunity to bring together policy makers, front-line workers, parents/caregivers, and students to discuss how the TRC can be considered in justice practices. The Symposium took a holistic look at how justice programs at the local and national level may incorporate culturally-appropriate programming. This included discussions on how individuals and families can be best supported in the community and, when necessary, in the justice system.

Moreover, the Symposium drew attention to the need for programs that are attentive to the broader contexts that impact Indigenous peoples with FASD, particularly when in contact with the justice system. Indigenous voices and programs were at the centre of the discussion. Justice programs that have solidly incorporated Indigenous perspectives were also explored—from smaller community-based projects to larger programs embedded in province-wide judicial initiatives. The goal was for participants to be exposed to programs from across Canada, to gain a broader understanding of the complexity of issues when discussing FASD in the justice system and to be introduced to new tools and networks to respond to the TRC Calls to Action.

The Symposium featured six presenters who led an exploration of how justice system programming supports people with FASD, focusing on the experiences of Indigenous individuals. This included the perspectives of parents, front-line community workers, and diagnosticians. Participants engaged in discussions focused on current practices, future directions, and the path forward. From the feedback collected throughout the event, Dr. Stewart’s research team has produced 6 key findings and 18 recommendations for moving forward.

Key Findings and Recommendations

1 Culturally and Historically-Informed Practices

Participants noted that there is often a lack of culturally and historically-informed programming for individuals with FASD across systems.

Recommendation 1: Develop relationships between agencies and Indigenous communities.

Recommendation 2: Develop training focused on the TRC and the history of residential schools and colonialism in Canada for agencies.

Recommendation 3: Explore the potential for culturally and historically-informed practices within the health system.

2 Trauma

Participants recognized the role of trauma in the lived-experience of individuals with FASD, particularly in relation to the potential for re-traumatization within the justice system.

Recommendation 4: Develop and distribute training on trauma-informed practices.

Recommendation 5: Establish the capacity for trauma to be incorporated as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Recommendation 6: Develop outreach and training material for frontline health professionals about practices surrounding diagnosis and care.

3 Advocacy

Participants discussed the ways in which individuals with FASD, families, and support agencies can advocate for greater awareness of FASD and confront the stigma surrounding FASD.

Recommendation 7: Facilitate collaborative spaces that are inclusive and welcoming of candid discussions.

Recommendation 8: Create spaces for individuals with FASD and caregivers to engage directly with policy-makers and program managers.

Recommendation 9: Facilitate spaces for individuals with FASD and families to access training.

Recommendation 10: Implement and integrate changes to programs and practices that honour Indigenous perspectives.

Recommendation 11: Establish keeping families together as a top priority informed by Indigenous perspectives.

4 Resources

Participants expressed that, while some jurisdictions have demonstrated success in establishing supports for individuals with FASD and their families, there are substantial gaps in services particularly in rural or remote communities.

Recommendation 12: Identify wise practices that best support individuals with FASD across the lifespan informed by Indigenous perspectives.

Recommendation 13: Prioritize community driven requests for supports and services with an emphasis on sustained funding.

Recommendation 14: Fund culturally appropriate diagnoses, mentorship, and respite for families, lifeskills and mentoring for individuals, and ongoing support that changes across the lifespan.

5 Interagency Collaboration

Participants noted that a primary challenge to the provision of appropriate supports and services to individuals with FASD is the “silo effect” (agencies working in isolation) which prohibits effective collaboration.

Recommendation 15: Facilitate regular opportunities for interdisciplinary teams to come together to share resources.

Recommendation 16: Strike working groups comprised of federal, provincial/territorial stakeholders, and policy-makers in collaboration with Indigenous communities to implement TRC Calls 33 and 34.

6 Challenging Systems and Policy

Participants noted many barriers to individuals with FASD accessing services, including the need for maternal confirmation and justice-specific concerns (such as conditions of release and use of legal jargon).

Recommendation 17: Complete a program and policy review through a TRC lens to make appropriate modifications to programs, practices, and protocols.

Recommendation 18: Undertake a review of culturally modified/culturally appropriate diagnostic practices to modify or enhance current diagnostic practices.




Honouring Jordan’s Principle

Honouring Jordan’s Principle is a report outlining the obstacles to accessing equitable health and social services for First Nations children with special healthcare needs living in Pinaymootang, Manitoba. Pinaymootang is a First Nations community about 220km north of Winnipeg.

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Jordan’s Principle is a child first principle intended to ensure that First Nations children do not experience denials, delays, or disruptions of public services ordinarily available to other children because of jurisdictional disputes between different levels of government or between departments within the same level of government. See here for more information.

In 2015, Pinaymootang First Nation partnered with McGill University to document the experience of Pinaymootang First Nation families and service providers in accessing services for children with special needs. Although the report did not specifically address children with FASD, estimates on the prevalence of FASD in northern Canadian communities range from 7.0 to 189.7 per 1,000 people (pg 28 – prevalence of FASD in Canada). Further, the service needs of children with FASD certainly fall within the scope of the research.

Interviews with families, service providers, and representatives from Indigenous organizations revealed:

  • Severe funding disparities for services provided on reserve.
  • Funding disparities were due to: ambiguous and vague bureaucratic guidelines and procedures regarding provincial vs federal responsibility; unequal funding between provincial and federal programs; and the mere distance Pinaymootang First Nation is from a service hub.
  • 3 main areas where First Nations children with special needs experience service disparities compared to Manitoba children living off reserve: (1) access to allied health services (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and counselling); (2) reduced access to a range of prescription medications and assistive devices; and (3) some limitations in primary and specialized medical services because of shortages of qualified personnel and rurality.
  • Combined, these disparities resulted in denial, delays, and disruptions of services ordinarily available to other children in Manitoba. Children with special healthcare needs living in Pinaymootang did not receive the services they required to properly manage their medical and developmental conditions, improve their quality of life, or reach their maximum potential.
  • The lack of support services placed emotional and financial strain on the families and there were very limited support services for caregivers who felt overwhelmed, isolated, and frustrated. In fact, it was through the research project that families in very similar situations first learned of each other and the healthcare facility instituted bi-weekly family support meetings.
  • Families were faced with 3 scenarios to meet the needs of their children with complex healthcare needs: (1) stay where they were without access to services; (2) relocate to the city and move away from their support networks; or (3) transfer custody of their children to Child and Family Services.
  • The school and healthcare centre work hard to collaborate with other organizations and apply for grants in order to provide services to its community members. Many of their programs are delivered outside of core funding without certainty of continued funding, which hinders long-term strategies to address community needs.

Report recommendations:

1. All future decisions on the implementation of Jordan’s Principle on reserve should be made in ongoing consultation with First Nations.

2. All programs aimed at eliminating service disparities should aim to be culturally appropriate and sustainable.

3. Known and documented disparities in the services available to on reserve First Nations children and those ordinarily available to other children should be immediately and systematically remedied.

4. Budget allocations for on reserve services should be based on actual community needs, as determined by First Nations governments and service providers.

5. Funds to support the identification of community needs, and the development and implementation of programs to address those needs, should be allocated as core funding (not be conditional or grant-based).

6. Funding and other resources should be allocated to support collaborations across First Nations communities. These collaborations will facilitate the sharing of resources and the training and hiring of local First Nations staff in the Interlake region.

7. Investments in capacity building need to be made immediately. These investments should support both short-term (e.g., additional training on speech and language basics for case workers already working in communities) and long-term (e.g., funding the training of local First Nations workers in the allied health professions) capacity development.

8. Mechanisms should be put in place to improve communication and collaboration between the three levels of government (federal, provincial, and First Nations), as well as among departments within the same level of government.

9. Policy and services must be designed and implemented to address the needs of youth with disabilities and / or special healthcare needs as they transition into adulthood.

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Hello! I’m Dr. Marnie Makela and I’m one of the voices behind the CanFASD blog. I’m also a researcher with CanFASD and a Registered Psychologist in Edmonton, AB. I received my PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Alberta.  I work with individuals with FASD and other complex disabilities, their families, and their service providers to complete assessments and develop effective intervention plans that will create meaningful and positive life experiences. 

Retrieved from: canfasd

AAFP: Alcohol Misuse Resources


Ther American Academy of Family Physicians has created a web page and numerous resources on alcohol misuse.

Alcohol misuse is defined as a spectrum of behaviors, including risky (excessive) alcohol use, alcohol abuse, or alcohol dependence. Risky or excessive alcohol use means drinking more than the amount that results in an increased risk of poor health outcomes. It is estimated that among adults in the United States, 58% of men and 46% of women have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Risky and excessive alcohol use has resulted in approximately 88,000 deaths in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010.

Alcohol use in pregnancy is the cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), a range of lifelong conditions that include physical and behavioral problems, as well as intellectual disabilities. All women of childbearing age should be screened for alcohol use. Family physicians should provide brief interventions that include describing the effects of drinking during pregnancy and warning that there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Family physicians and other primary care providers are in an ideal position to facilitate the prevention of untimely morbidity and mortality associated with risky alcohol use. The AAFP has a variety of resources to help family physicians with prevention, screening, treatment, and counseling of their patients. These include clinical preventive service recommendations, a preconception care position paper, continuing medical education (CME) courses, journal articles, and a new alcohol intervention manual called, Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program.

Check out all the resources at: 

Pregnant Pause new campaign video launch event: Australia

Pregnant Pause new campaign video launch event from FAREAustralia on Vimeo.

Pregnant Pause, the innovative public health campaign that encourages mums-to-be to go alcohol free with the support of their family and friends, officially launched its latest television commercial on the big screen at a premiere screening at Palace Electric Cinema in Canberra on Monday.

Life is better with the support of family and friends. That messaging is at the heart of Pregnant Pause. It’s also the takeaway of the new, light-hearted Pregnant Pause television commercial (TVC) shot entirely on location in Canberra, which was launched by ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, MLA.

Mums and bubs, and mums-to-be, including FARE’s very own Communications Officer, Jemima Turner joined with Pregnant Pausers, campaign stakeholders and supporters to get a first look at the new TVC – fittingly followed by an exclusive screening of the new blockbuster, Wonder Woman.

Showcasing Garema Place, Canberra suburbia and Deakin soccer stadium, the new campaign video, features local media personalities and Pregnant Pause ambassadors Kristen Henry and Rod Cuddihy from Canberra’s Mix 106.3.

With actors struggling to move house, flip a mattress, and awkwardly cheer for their favourite team without the help or company of others, the TVC makes clear that life is indeed easier and more enjoyable with the support of family and friends.

A big thank you to Meegan Fitzharris, Kristen Henry and Rod Cuddihy, and to Dr Boon Lim and ACT Health. Also a big shoutout to our campaign partners and supporters, Southern Cross Austereo, Mix 106.3, Club Lime and Palace Electric Cinema.

And finally, and most importantly, a big thank you to our Pregnant Pause community.
Missed the launch? Drink Tank has you covered. Watch our launch wrap-up video below, and take a look at our new TVC.


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