Substance Use Treatment with People with FASD

It is National Addictions Awareness Week. In celebration, we wanted to share a little bit about a project we are working on to improve substance use treatment in individuals with FASD.

Substance use and individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Based on previous research, we know substance use in individuals with FASD is high. Data from the National FASD Database shows that nearly half of individuals with FASD are using substances, alcohol and cannabis being the most common. One study reported that 38% of people with FASD were misusing alcohol and 46% other substances.

In 2016, we hosted a workshop called Learning TogetherThis workshop brought together individuals with FASD, caregivers, and researchers for a two-day discussion around FASD research in Canada. Among the many issues that arose, attendees identified high dropout rates from addiction treatment programs and cannabis use as major concerns.

Treating individuals with FASD who use substances

FASD is a lifelong disability impacting both the brain and body of people who were exposed to alcohol during fetal development. Because of the brain-based differences that individuals with FASD experience, they often don’t succeed in traditional substance use treatment programs.

However, everyone is capable of change and growth. It is not a question of whether or not someone with FASD will benefit from substance use treatment. The question is how can we support success for individuals with FASD in treatment programs?

To achieve this, we have to consider how we can adapt treatment and provide FASD-informed supports and services that encourage healthy outcomes. Research has shown that this population can and does succeed in treatment when it is modified appropriately. These modifications can lead to improved attitudes for caregivers and reduced stress of families, caregivers, and providers.

Researching substance use treatment and FASD

In 2020, we received funding from the Health Canada Substance Use and Addictions Program to conduct a research project on substance use treatment and FASD. Our goal was to improve substance use treatment for people with FASD. But, before we could get there, we needed to answer a bunch of different questions. How do people with FASD accesses substance use treatment? What are the barriers to successful treatment? Do service providers recognize people with FASD in their practice? What changes have programs made to work with individuals with FASD towards success?

This project had a lot of moving parts to get us from point A to point B. Our activities included:

  • Publishing a scoping review of the relevant academic and grey literature;
  • Doing an environmental scan to identify treatment programs in Canada;
  • Conducting surveys and interviews with substance use treatment programs;
  • Interviewing individuals with lived experiences;
  • Collecting data specifically around cannabis use and FASD; and
  • Collecting information around identification of FASD in substance use treatment programs
  • Looking at cultural needs of Indigenous communities in treatment

Best practices for substance use treatment in people with FASD

All these research activities helped us to identify evidence-based best practices for treating people with FASD who are using substances. We then published a guide for substance use and addictions professionals that includes everything from identifying and screening for FASD to adjusting treatment practices to supporting interdependence, and everything in between. This information will be translated into an online course for addictions professionals.

Looking at substance use treatment in youth

Up until now, the work we’ve done has focused on adults with FASD who are using substances. But we know youth with FASD also experience substance use challenges. The National FASD Database shows that more youth with FASD use cannabis (34%) than youth in the general population (10%). Youth with FASD also exhibit higher rates of crack/cocaine use than the general population (5% vs 1%). Youth with FASD need intervention programs designed specifically for them and created with their input for substance use prevention to be successful.

We are currently conducting additional research to identify evidence-based practices to support youth with FASD in substance use treatment. In this new extension, we will explore the unique considerations for service delivery in this population, such as the developmental stages of youth and the increased role of caregivers.  You can learn more about this project by checking out our most recent webinar recording!

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2022/11/23/substance-use-treatment-with-people-with-fasd/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=substance-use-treatment-with-people-with-fasd



The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) designed Overcoming Stigma Through Language: A Primer to increase understanding of the devastating stigma associated with substance use and addiction and its impact on the well-being of people touched by this health issue.

We created this primer with support from our partners at the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA). Our hope is that it will help you and your community of influence to recognize the stigmatizing language, attitudes and behaviours that surround people experiencing the harms of substance use.

Many people with lived and living experience with substance use have shared with us their stories about stigma in their communities, workplaces and homes. We have learned from those stories. On an individual level, stigmatizing words or actions are harmful. Collectively, and over time, they have an even greater impact on people’s health and well-being.


Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/11/23/overcoming-stigma-through-language-a-primer/


National Addictions Awareness Week 

A city. A sports team. A neighbourhood. A school. An organization. A group of friends.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes.

Join us Nov. 20–26 for National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW). This year we are placing the spotlight on how different communities across the country are helping those in their community with problematic substance use or have a substance use disorder.

It’s about showing how collaborating as a community, a Community of Caring, makes change happen.



Please join us for the continuation of the Substance Use in Canada Webinar Series to explore our recently published report entitled Experiences of Harm Reduction Service Providers During Dual Public Health Emergencies in Canada.Our next webinar will focus on survey results highlighting the experiences of individuals providing harm reduction services during the overdose emergency, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Call to Action provides concrete measures various players can take to improve the care system and structure, ultimately leading to improvements in the lives affected by and responding to drug harms.

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with experts and learn more about the study, followed by a discussion and a question-and-answer period. Space is limited for this webinar. We encourage you to register early to secure your place as past webinars have reached capacity.

Date & Time: Wed., Dec. 07, 2022, at 3 p.m. eastern
Register now


Dr. Shenna Taha, Interim Associate Director, Knowledge Mobilization, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)
Dr. Samantha King, Research and Policy Analyst, CCSA
Sara Atif, Research and Policy Analyst, CCSA

Thank you,

Please note that this webinar will be presented in English.
Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/11/18/experiences-of-harm-reduction-service-providers-during-dual-public-health-emergencies-in-canada-webinar/

FASD Prevention Seminar Series: Level 3 & 4 Holistic Support in Pregnancy and Postpartum

We have previously shared both level 1 and 2 prevention seminars of our International FASD Prevention Seminar Series, we will now explore level 3 and 4.

Level 3 & 4 Prevention

The third level of the FASD Prevention Model includes specialized prenatal support and the provision of respectful and holistic care and treatment for girls and women who are using alcohol during pregnancy, and have related health, social, and financial concerns.

The fourth level of prevention supports new mothers who were not able to make significant changes to their substance use during pregnancy, so that they can improve their health, wellbeing, and the health of their children.

Ongoing holistic, non-judgemental health care, social support and peer support that is designed to make it safe for pregnant women and mothers with alcohol problems, histories of violence and trauma and related health concerns are also citical to both levels.

FASD Prevention Seminar Series

In 2022, CanFASD sponsored a five-part prevention seminar series. This series brought 14 researchers together from around the world to share what is known about preventing alcohol use during pregnancy and supporting women’s health.

The next part of the series, Level 3 & 4 Holistic Support in Pregnancy and Postpartum, features two Canadian research teams studying the work of community-based programs for pregnant women and new mothers who have alcohol problems and related health and social concerns.

Dr. Deborah Rutman and Carol Hubberstey from Nota Bene Consulting Group describe outcomes for eight holistic wraparound programs that support pregnant and parenting women who use substances.

Dr. Mary Motz from Mothercraft Breaking the Cycle shares findings from Breaking the Cycle’s multiservice program for pregnant and parenting women who use substances and their children.

To learn more about these specialized holistic supports during pregnancy and postpartum, we encourage you to check out this part of the International FASD Prevention Seminar Series that is available on both our website and YouTube channel!

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2022/11/16/fasd-prevention-level-3-4-holistic-support-in-pregnancy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fasd-prevention-level-3-4-holistic-support-in-pregnancy


An Evening with Shelly Moore

Inclusion Grande Prairie has partnered with Northwest Regional Learning Consortium to offer an in-person Shelley Moore workshop in Grande Prairie! 

Shelley will discuss the role parents play with schools and communities to integrate theory and effective practices of inclusion.

Date: November 22, 2022

Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Location: Delta Hotel (11700 99 Avenue)

Link to Register: https://nrlc.net/program/9835
Cost: Free

Facebook Post: https://www.facebook.com/InclusionGP

If you have any questions about the workshop, please feel free to connect.


Lindsay Kelly

Inclusion Alberta 
Cell: 780-832-7326




This webinar will include an overview of the Substance Use and Addictions in FASD Populations study, detailing the results and outcome of the project. An introduction into the youth centered part of the study will also be provided.

Time: Nov 18, 2022 01:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Click here to register.

Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/11/02/webinar-registration-substance-use-and-treatment-in-fasd-populations/


Looking for adults with FASD to share about their strengths and successes!

There is not a lot of research on strengths and success in people with FASD. Strengths-based research is important for creating a more balanced, hopeful, and optimistic understanding about FASD. This can ultimately increase wellbeing for people with FASD and their families.

We want to hear from adults with FASD about their strengths and successes. We’re doing a study to learn about how adults with FASD see themselves, what they’re good at, and how they feel about their lives. We are looking for people with FASD who are 18 years or older, in Canada and worldwide.

What are we asking you to do?

There are three different ways to be a part of this study. You can pick how you want to share with us:

  1. You can answer survey questions about your thoughts and feelings
  2. You can share artwork or pictures that are important to you. You can use any kind of art you want, then take a picture of it and send us the picture. We’ll also ask you to tell us what it means to you, using your own words.
  3. You can even do both things!

If you have FASD and are 18 years or older, please consider doing our study! It will take about an hour of your time. If you or someone you know are interested in completing the survey, follow this link.

If you don’t have internet but still want to do the study, you can contact Katy Flannigan at katy.flannigan@canfasd.ca. Someone from the research team will ask you the questions over the phone.

Why is this important?

Strengths-based research is needed to balance the story of FASD. Research on strengths and successes can help to promote a sense of agency, wellbeing, and resilience, and support individuals with FASD and their families to thrive. By being in this study, you will help others learn more about FASD and how to provide better support for people with FASD. You will also be helping to decrease the stigma of FASD.

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2022/10/19/adults-with-fasd-strengths-and-successes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adults-with-fasd-strengths-and-successes