Category Archives: Resources

Have you read: A Handbook For Beautiful People

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When twenty-two-year-old Marla finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she wishes for a family, but faces precariousness: an uncertain future with her talented, exacting boyfriend, Liam; constant danger from her roommate, Dani, a sometime prostitute and entrenched drug addict; and the unannounced but overwhelming needs of her younger brother, Gavin, whom she has brought home for the first time from deaf school. Forcing her hand is Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome, which sets her apart but also carries her through.

When Marla loses her job and breaks her arm in a car accident, Liam asks her to marry him. It’s what she’s been waiting for: a chance to leave Dani, but Dani doesn’t take no for an answer. Marla stays strong when her mother shows up drunk, creates her own terms when Dani publicly shames her, and then falls apart when Gavin attempts suicide. It rains, and then pours, and when the Bow River finally overflows, flooding Marla’s entire neighbourhood, she is ready to admit that she wants more for her child than she can possibly give right now. Marla’s courage to ask for help and keep her mind open transforms everyone around her, cementing her relationships and proving to those who had doubted her that having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder does not make a person any less noble, wise or caring.

About the author:

Jennifer Spruit grew up in Lloydminster, AB/SK, alongside pump jacks, farm machinery, and its endless, sparkling winter sky. Her affair with writing began with a Grade One story about a tractor, but she has since become engaged in writing about people. She studied Creative Writing at UBC and now lives in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island, where she enjoys playing folk and bluegrass, teaching kids, and rowing a blue canoe. Her work has appeared in Arc, The Antigonish Review, Prairie Fire Magazine, and SubTerrain Magazine, among others. A Handbook for Beautiful People is her debut novel. She is currently at work on a second novel.


“…there is a lot going on in A Handbook for Beautiful People, much of it very good. Spruit’s chapter titles (“Ravioli” “Eggplant” “Honeydew”) allude to the growing fetus in a creative way. Marla’s fetal alcohol syndrome manifests itself in myriad behaviours and decisions, something the condition is said to do. It makes her both unpredictable and believable, a good combination. Spruit’s use of point-of-view, which shifts fluidly between different characters, is impressive and regularly means we’ll see scenes unfold in different ways for different people, as we do at a Christmas dinner that takes place in a Chinese restaurant. The novel’s techniques are consistently intriguing.”

“Wonderful, heartfelt, heartbreaking–I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.”
–Annabel Lyon, author of The Sweet Girl

Click here for purchase and ordering information


Mental Health for Life


Mental health is key to our well-being. We can’t be truly healthy without it. It involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with the world around us. Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community. It may be more helpful to think of good mental health as thriving. Good mental health isn’t about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ life. It’s about living well and feeling capable despite challenges. Mental well-being is bigger than the presence or absence of a mental illness. People who live with a mental illness can and do thrive, just as people without a mental illness may experience poor mental health.

Each of our paths to mental well-being will be unique. We all have our own goals, our own challenges, our own talents, and our own supports. But good mental health is in everyone’s reach. Below, find tips and activities to help you take a look at your own well-being, discover your strengths, and take action.

Build a healthy self-esteem

Self-esteem is more than just seeing your good qualities. It is being able to see all your abilities and weaknesses together, accepting them, and doing your best with what you have. Self-esteem means recognizing your unique talents and abilities, and using that confidence to follow your goals and interests without comparing yourself to others.

Activity: Build confidence

Take a good look at your good points. What do you do best? Where are your skills and interest areas? How would a friend describe you? Now, look at your weak points. What do you have difficulty doing? What things make you feel frustrated? Now, which list was easier to write? Remember that all of us have our positive and negative sides. We build confidence by developing our weaker areas and regularly reminding ourselves of the things we’re comfortable with and proud of.

Build positive support networks

Good relationships take effort, whether it’s relationships with family members, friends, or other important supporters. It takes courage to reach out and time to build trust. But social support is a very important part of mental health. People in our networks can offer many different kinds of support, like emotional support, practical help, and alternate points of view. Support can come from family and friends, neighbours, co-workers or classmates, faith communities, clubs or support groups for specific problems.

Activity: Make time

Make time just to be with important people in your life. Make time for simply having fun and enjoying each other’s company, and time for serious conversations.

Get involved

Being involved in things that really matter to us provides a great feeling of purpose and satisfaction. You make a difference, no matter how big or small your efforts. Getting involved connects you with others in your community who share similar interests or values and connects you to groups of people you might not normally meet. It can help you learn new skills, build confidence, and see your own experiences in a different way.

Activity: Volunteer

Be a volunteer. Read to children at your local library, visit people in a hospital or care facility, serve on a committee or board of your favourite charity, clean up your favourite park or beach, or simply help a neighbour.

Build resiliency

Resiliency means coping well with problems, stress, and other difficult situations. Problems and stress are a normal part of life. Situations like accidents or illness, unexpected life changes, and conflict happen to everyone. Resiliency is what helps you look at the situation realistically, take action when you can make changes, let go of things you can’t change, and recognize the helpful supports in your life. Your resiliency toolkit might include skills like problem-solving, assertiveness, balancing obligations and expectations, and developing support networks. While some people learn these skills during treatment for mental health problems, we should really think of them as skills for everyone. You can learn more about these skills online, in books, through community organizations, or through your health care provider.

Activity: Build your own toolkit

Set aside time to think about the resiliency tools you already have. This might include skills like structured problem-solving or people who can help you during difficult situations. Remember to include strategies that have worked for you in the past. Keep your list on hand and use it as a reminder when you need help. It’s also a good way to see where you might want to build new skills or supports.

Recognize your emotions

Emotional well-being is not about being happy all the time. Feeling sad, angry, and anxious at times is part of being human. Emotional well-being involves expressing our emotions in a way that respects everyone. Bottling up our feelings doesn’t respect our own experiences, just as lashing out because we feel angry may not respect others. Emotional well-being also includes recognizing what influences our emotions, discovering how our emotions affect the way we think or act, taking action when our emotional response isn’t helpful, and learning to accept our emotions—even the difficult ones.

Activity: Identify and deal with your moods

Find out what makes you happy, sad, joyful or angry. What calms you down? Learn ways to deal with your moods. Share joyful news with a friend, and find support when you feel sad. Physical exercise can help you deal with your anger or anxiety. Keep a stack of your favourite funny cartoons, stories, or videos for times when you need to laugh. And don’t forget the power of music to lift you up or calm you down.

Take care of your spiritual well-being

Spiritual well-being means getting to know ourselves, discovering our values, and learning to be at peace with who we are. It also involves finding and connecting to something bigger than ourselves and living with purpose. Spirituality can give us meaning and solace, help us overcome challenges, and help us build connections with others. This may mean religion for some, but it doesn’t have to—it’s really about how we feel on the inside.

Activity: Connect with yourself

Set aside quiet, quality time to be totally alone. Try a breathing exercise: count your breaths from one to four, and then start at one again. Or do something you love to do, like dancing, going to a baseball game, building a bird house, going for a hike, or whatever works for you!

Do you need more help?

Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.

Founded in 1918, The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA helps people access the community resources they need to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness.



New Book, Mothers, Addiction and Recovery: Finding Meaning Through the Journey


This anthology is a collection of personal accounts, research, treatment approaches and policy commentary exploring women’s experiences of mothering in the context of addiction. Individual chapters focus on a variety of addictions during pregnancy or mothering including misuse of substances, food and smartphones.

A central theme of the book is the meaning of women’s maternal identity as key to recovery. Part I focusses on women’s lived experiences of mothering through their addiction and recovery. The chapters in part II report findings from studies that have prioritized the perspective of mothers living with addiction. In Part III of this collection, we expand our view of addiction and turn to approaches for supporting mothers of daughters with eating disorders and prevention of smartphone addiction. In part IV, contributors expand on the themes of harm reduction and restorative, healing approaches to the treatment of mothers’ addictions that have echoed throughout the chapters of this book. The anthology concludes with a gendered analysis and critique of addiction programs and policy.

“Mothers, Addiction and Recovery: Finding Meaning Through the Journey” is a timely and innovative book, which provides a significant exploration of the topic of addiction. The book effectively highlights mothers’ unique experiences of addiction from their own voices, provides a comprehensive overview of current scholarly research and theorization on addiction, and offers a critical discussion of addiction treatment and recovery programs and practices. The authors provide invaluable insight into the various ways that women mother in the context of addiction, the challenges and struggles they encounter, and the strengths and capacities they demonstrate despite the difficulties and stigmatizations that they face. This book should be read by policy makers, academics, service providers, the wider general public, and anyone who seeks to gain a greater understanding of the unique experience of mothering in the context of addiction.”
—CAROLINE MCDONALD-HARKER, Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta

Purchase details can be found here

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada: Alcohol and Pregnancy Resources


Growing babies are harmed when a mother smokes, drinks alcohol, or uses drugs. It is never too late to quit any substance abuse habits, and there are lots of resources out there in the community to help you stop. Talk to your health care provider. He or she can help you find the resources you and your baby need.

These tip sheets have been developed by the SOGCJust click on the image to download the PDF versions. 


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8th International Research Conference on Adolescents and Adults with FASD: Presentations


Although there have been thousands of published articles on FASD, there remains to be limited research specifically on adolescents and adults with FASD. As individuals diagnosed with FASD continue to age, the “need to know” across a broad spectrum of areas continues to be critically important for identifying clinically relevant research questions and directions.

Continuing on the work of seven previous conferences, there remains a clear need to examine relevant global research, programs and policies. What does existing or emerging research tell us? Are the results transferable from country to country and/or from laboratory to real life? Are there clinical implications of results from any of these areas of which we should be aware? What are the changes in our thinking, practice and directions that will be required to improve outcomes? What are the implications for the future?

This interactive 2018 conference provided an opportunity to be at the forefront of addressing these relevant global issues.

To see the conference presentations and webcasts please click here


Resource: Here Come Baby Videos

Here Comes Baby, is a video series for new and soon-to-be parents. The videos include:


The videos will bring together local parents, health professionals, experts to discuss the realities of life with a new baby. Expect to see some familiar faces!

Bathing Baby

This video demonstrates how to give a new baby a bath. It includes tips and tricks on how to turn bath time into an enjoyable experience for both baby and the parent or caregiver.


This video shares answers to common questions about jaundice.

Postpartum Recovery

This video shares answers to common questions about recovery in the postpartum period.  

Diaper Change Demonstration 

This video demonstrates how to change a new baby’s diaper.  It includes suggestions/tips that may make diapering safer, easier and more enjoyable for parent and baby.

Postpartum Mental Health

This video shares some of the emotional changes after giving birth and some tips on what you can do about it.


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In a new study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, it is estimated that the overall cost of substance use in Canada was $38.4 billion in 2014. That amounts to approximately $1,100 for every Canadian regardless of age.

Substance use is a significant cost to the Canadian economy.

It has a direct impact on the healthcare and criminal justice systems as well as an indirect economic impact through lost productivity illness, injury and premature death.


With a better understanding of the economic, health and social costs of substance use in Canada — supported by comparable, valid and up-to-date data — federal and provincial/territorial public health experts will be able to:

Lost Productivity

Prioritize and target relevant public policies

Create initiatives to target the harms caused by substance use
Criminal Justice

Identify information gaps, research needs and refinements to be made to national data reporting systems
Other Direct Costs

Establish a baseline for measuring changes in policy and determining the effectiveness of harm-reduction programs

Objectives of This Project

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR)had two main objectives for the Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms project:

Provide updated data on the costs of substance use in Canada

The Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms report provides estimates of the costs of substance use in Canada from 2007 to 2014.


Launch an interactive data visualization tool (Coming Fall 2018).

The Tool allows for ongoing monitoring and in-depth exploration of the harms and costs of substance use over time. The methods behind this tool build on the work of CISUR’s alcohol and other drug AOD monitoring project.


Snapshot of Findings

In 2014,

  • The overall cost of substance use was $38.4 billion, which amounts to approximately $1,100 for every Canadian regardless of age.
  • Almost 70% of the total costs were due to alcohol and tobacco.
  • The four substances associated with the largest costs were:

Alcohol ($14.6 billion or 38.1% of the total cost)

Tobacco ($12.0 billion or 31.2% of the total cost)

Opioids ($3.5 billion or 9.1% of the total cost)

Cannabis ($2.8 billion or 7.3% of the total cost)
  • The distribution by cost type was as follows:
Lost Productivity

Lost productivity ($15.7 billion or 40.8% of the total cost)

Healthcare costs ($11.1 billion or 29.0% of the total cost)
Criminal Justice

Criminal justice costs ($9.0 billion or 23.3% of the total cost)
Other Direct Costs

Other Direct Costs ($2.7 billion or 7.0% of the total cost)
  • Per-person costs were highest in the three territories

Northwest TerritoriesNorthwest Territories


Between 2007 and 2014,

  • The per-person costs associated with SU increased 5.5% from $1,025 per person in 2007 to approximately $1,081 in 2014
  • The per-person costs associated with alcohol use increased by 11.6% from $369 per person to $412 per person
  • Per-person costs increased by 19.1% for cannabis ($67 to $79) and 6.8% for tobacco ($315 to $337)
  • Per-person costs decreased by 24.6% for cocaine ($84 to $63) and by 17.9% for other substances ($20 to $16)

Please click image to download full report:

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