CanFASD: The Unique Complexities of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

With an estimated 4% of individuals in Canada living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
(FASD), this disability is more common than most other neurodevelopmental disabilities
combined. However, knowledge and awareness of FASD among both the general public and
service providers continues to lag behind that of other disabilities [1-3]. FASD is a highly
complex disability. With increased knowledge of the complexities associated with FASD,
researchers, service providers, and policy makers will be better equipped to identify individuals
with FASD, support success for individuals with FASD and their families and caregivers, and
develop meaningful policy initiatives that foster well-being and positive outcomes.

The goals of this paper are to: 1) discuss contributing factors to FASD that distinguish the
disability in terms of complexity, co-occurrence, and magnitude, and 2) emphasize the
importance of adapting practice and policy approaches to account for these factors.

In this paper, we will discuss the literature related to FASD as a socially-rooted disability that
has intergenerational impacts, multiple layers of stigmatization, and high rates of mental health
comorbidities; is exacerbated by experiences of adversity across the lifespan; and presents
unique challenges for caregivers and families.

Full article can be accessed here:



Dear colleague,

Please join us for the continuation of the National Alcohol Forum: Implications of COVID-19webinar seriesOur next webinar will explore approaches that can be implemented in the community to support people living with alcohol use disorders during the pandemic.

People with substance use concerns are being disproportionately impacted by stresses related to the pandemic. Recent polling suggests that more than four in 10 people with past or current substance use disorders have been drinking more alcohol since March 2020. At the same time, many treatment and support services have moved online or adapted their in-person services to comply with pandemic restrictions.

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with experts and learn more about alcohol-related community supports and services. Space is limited for this webinar. We encourage you to register early to secure your place as past webinars have reached capacity.

Delivering Community-based Supports for Alcohol Use Disorder During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With access to in-person care limited during the pandemic, accessible community-based supports for people living with alcohol use disorder are crucial. Managed alcohol programs (MAPs) and mobile withdrawal management support (MWMS) services have been implemented in parts of Canada. This webinar will explore how MAPs and MWMS services are providing needed supports to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Date: March 22, 2021, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., EST

Register now


Dr. Bernie Pauly, Scientist, Associate Director, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

Dr. Andrew Lodge, Medical Director, Klinic Community Health

Please note that this webinar will be presented in English.

Retrieved from Webinar Registration: CCSA (preventionconversation.org)



The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is leading an exciting initiative, with support from Health Canada, to update Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines by 2022 using the latest evidence. We are holding a six weekonline public consultation to inform the update to the guidelines. The consultation survey is open to all people in Canada from March 8 until April 18. 

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines were originally published by CCSA in November 2011 and were the result of the work of alcohol research experts in Canada. Since then, substantial new research on the association between drinking alcohol and physical, mental and social harms has been completed. Many countries, including the U.K. and Australia, have updated their guidance on drinking to reflect these advancements in what we know about the risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. 

We want people in Canada to have the latest advice on alcohol to support them in making informed decisions about drinking. To that end, it is important that they are involved and have the opportunity to inform how the guidelines are developed and communicated. 

The feedback we receive will help to inform the update to the Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. It will help us learn about the experiences of the general public and stakeholders with the current guidelines and their needs and expectations for updated guidelines, namely: 

  • Whether and how Canadians are using the current alcohol drinking guidelines; 
  • What are some of the challenges in using the current guidelines; 
  • What is most useful in the current guidelines; and 
  • What your needs and expectations are for the updated guidelines.

We would be grateful if you could participate in this consultation and also share this request with your colleagues and networks. We want to hear from a number of people in Canada and ensure that we receive a broad range of perspectives related to alcohol and alcohol consumption. This includes members of the public, as well as professionals from a variety of sectors, including health and social services, health research, education and industry.

The online consultation survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete, depending on how much input you choose to provide. Should you decide to take part, rest assured that your information is completely confidential and anonymous.

Want to know more? Visit CCSA’s website or see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Retrieved from Have Your Say: Public Consultation on Updating Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (preventionconversation.org)



We will be hosting a new webinar with Dr. Brianne Redquest, our 2021 Dr. Sterling Clarren FASD Research Award winner, on March 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time.

Dr. Redquest is a postdoctoral fellow with the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Her research looks at the effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) on supporting the wellbeing of caregivers of individuals with FASD. Caregivers of people with FASD report high levels of stress and a need for support. However, there are very few interventions that specifically target their wellbeing. Preliminary results suggest that ACT training can significantly reduce stress and improve psychological wellbeing for caregivers. It can also help caregivers to feel supported and valued.

Dr. Redquest is the recipient of this year’s Dr. Sterling Clarren FASD Research Award, which recognizes researchers who have made a significant contribution to improve the lives of individuals with FASD, their families, and their communities. The award was named after Dr. Sterling Clarren to celebrate his contribution to, and leadership in, the field of FASD.

The award winner is usually invited to present their research at the International Research Conference on FASD held annually in Vancouver, British Columbia. However, due to the current global pandemic, we are shifting to a virtual presentation. Dr. Sterling Clarren will host this webinar and will present Dr. Redquest with this award.

Be sure to register now to attend!



Deciding to get help for an addiction to alcohol or other drugs can be one of the most important decisions of your life. It is important to know that when people struggling with addiction get the help they need, recovery is achievable and sustainable. Like other chronic health conditions, addiction requires care and support, so it is critical that you seek help from a professional with skills and expertise in treating addiction.

This guide provides information about the different treatment options that are available in Canada and important questions you should ask when talking to an addiction or healthcare provider or considering a treatment program. This guide does not provide all the answers as to what is best for you, there are many journeys to recovery and these journeys are individual. What works for one person may not work for another. The key is to ask the right questions when you are seeking services and supports so that you are able to make the choices and decisions that are best for you.

This guide is a starting point for your individual journey. See page 12 for a list of websites and contact information when you are ready to find out more information about treatment options in your province or territory. This guide does not take the place of advice from an addiction or healthcare provider. If you are in an immediate crisis or danger, please call 9-1-1. See next page for a list of crisis and help lines in your province or territory.


Retrieved from Finding Quality Addiction Care in Canada (preventionconversation.org)



The COVID-19 pandemic has created disruptions in our lives that can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. These feelings are normal.

Have you been experiencing any of the following?

  • Sadness or low mood
  • Feeling overwhelmed or frustrated Isolation or loneliness
  • Fear or worry
  • Anger or irritation
  • Problems sleeping
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Consuming more alcohol, cannabis or other substances than usual

If you have, and these feelings or experiences are affecting your day-to-day life, consider reaching out for help.

Virtual care refers to services that use technology such as video, telephone and messaging to provide health care when caregivers and clients cannot meet in person.

Virtual care can be effective and is available now.

Wellness Together Canada: The Government of Canada’s website offers tools, resources and virtual counselling for mental health and substance use support. Visit the website to get started.

Healthcare providers: Many healthcare providers are available to support you virtually. Talk to a healthcare provider such as your family doctor, nurse practitioner, a registered psychologist or other mental health and addiction professionals.

Virtual peer-support: Many peer-support services are available to support you virtually. Visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s website to learn more.

Community-based mental health and substance use care: Find services to support health and wellness in your province and territory. Visit the Government of Canada’s Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic web page or the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s Finding Quality Addiction Care in Canada.

Employee and Family Assistance Programs: Many workplaces have Employee and Family Assistance Programs that offer resources and professional counselling for mental health and substance use. Talk to your employer to find out more about available resources.


Retrieved from Virtual Care for Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19 (preventionconversation.org)



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Dear colleague,

Canadians are feeling the strain during the COVID-19 pandemic. While these uncertain times are proving difficult for us all, they are presenting greater challenges and risks to people with substance use disorders or mental illness. Up to one in two individuals with an existing substance use disorder reported having moderately severe to severe symptoms of depression since March 2020, according to a new Leger poll.

These findings are from a new series of bimonthly Leger polls commissioned by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to shed light on the ongoing impact of the pandemic on Canadians’ mental health and substance use.

Around one-third of those surveyed who drink alcohol reported drinking more since the start of the pandemic. This increase was greater among respondents with a history of substance use disorders, four in 10 to almost half of whom reported increased alcohol consumption during this period. 

Although substance use and mental health symptoms were high across the board, it is clear that people with a history of mental health or substance use concerns are being disproportionately impacted by stresses related to the pandemic.

Other key facts include:

  • Up to one in two respondents with current mental health symptoms who use cannabis reported increased use since March 2020, compared to two in five of the general population.
  • Over one in three respondents with current mental health symptoms who use alcohol reported consuming more since the start of the pandemic.
  • Moderate and severe anxiety symptoms were highest among respondents with lifetime substance use disorder and lifetime mental health diagnoses.
  • Respondents’ top stressors were financial strain (14%), social isolation (12%) and the health of family members (11%).
  • Just 24 per cent of respondents with problematic substance use and 22 per cent with current mental health symptoms have accessed treatment since March.

It is more important than ever that Canadians have timely access to a full range of quality services and supports that meet them where they are. In response to these findings, CCSA is highlighting some of its existing resources and supports:

We encourage you to share this publication with your networks. You can download the full survey data on the MHCC website and find a comprehensive list of resources on substance use and COVID-19 in CCSA’s online resource centre.

If you have any questions about the polling project or want to know more about our work with MHCC, please email RJesseman@ccsa.ca.

Retrieved from Message From The Canadian Centre on Substance Use And Addiction (preventionconversation.org)




More and more online opportunities for professional development are popping up in our increasingly virtual environment. Although there are lots of courses out there for specific professions, there are very few online learning opportunities for the range of professionals who work with people with FASD and women who are at risk of having a child with FASD.

Best Practices for Prevention, Intervention, and Support is CanFASD’s newest online learning course, available Spring 2021. It is designed for professionals working in the fields of substance use, mental health, housing, employment, justice, and more.

This webinar will provide an overview of the four modules provided in this course. It will also highlight some of the key tools and resources included in the modules to support individuals who have or are at risk of having a child with FASD and/or may have FASD themselves.

This video is part of our CanFASD webinar series, bringing evidence-based research on FASD to Canadians from the comfort of your own home.

Music “Enigmatic” from https://www.bensound.com​


Doorways to Conversation – https://bccewh.bc.ca/wp-content/uploa…

Towards Healthy Outcomes – https://canfasd.ca/publications/towar…

CanFASD Online Learning – https://canfasd.ca/online-learners/




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Register now for our new webinar Assessment of Preschoolers with Prenatal Alcohol ExposureA joint event with the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute and CanFASD, this panel discussion will feature presentations from Dr. Ana Hanlon Dearman and Dr. Ghita Wiebe. It will be a 1-hour event at 1:00 pm eastern time on February 5, 2021.

Receiving a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the first step in connecting a child to the appropriate supports and beginning to plan for the future. This webinar will provide awareness and understanding of the multidisciplinary assessment for FASD in preschool children with prenatal alcohol exposure. Dr. Ana Hanlon-Dearman and Dr. Ghita Wiebe will explain the process of diagnosis, the benefits of diagnosis, and describe the current state of preschool FASD multidisciplinary assessments. Ms. Mohr is a caregiver to a child with FASD. She will speak to the impact of receiving her daughter’s diagnosis. There will be 10-15 minutes at the end of the presentation for attendees to have questions answered by the panelists.




Written by Robby Berman on January 29, 2021 — Fact checked by Alexandra Sanfins, Ph.D.

  • A new study finds that depression and anxiety contribute to increased drinking during the pandemic.
  • The effect is most pronounced for those over the age of 40 years.
  • Among older people, those with depression and anxiety are more than twice as likely to drink more alcohol.

Previous research has found that people turn to alcohol as a means of helping them handle stress, such as in the period following the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Numerous studies have found that alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic, and dramatically so for people with depression.

A new study takes a fresh look at drinking during the pandemic and finds, for the first time, that age affects the likelihood of a person consuming more alcohol as a response to the pandemic.

Lead author Ariadna Capasso, of NYU School of Global Public Health in New York City, says:

“This increase in drinking, particularly among people with anxiety and depression, is consistent with concerns that the pandemic may be triggering an epidemic of problematic alcohol use.”

The study features in the journal Preventive Medicine.

The study’s general findings

The researchers surveyed 5,850 adults from all 50 states through Facebook and its associated platforms during the months of March and April 2020. They asked the participants to describe themselves demographically and report how their alcohol use had changed since the start of the pandemic.

The survey also included questions that allowed the researchers to identify and measure the participants’ symptoms of depression and anxiety. Each person also reported the degree to which they felt at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Of all the participants identifying themselves as drinkers, 29% reported that their alcohol consumption had increased during the pandemic.

Of the drinkers, 51.2% said that the pandemic had not affected the amount of alcohol that they consumed, while another 19.8% reported drinking less.

Of all the people surveyed, 47% and 30% reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, respectively.

Individuals reporting symptoms of depression were 64% more likely to be consuming greater amounts of alcohol, while anxiety was associated with a 41% higher likelihood of increased drinking.

The study also found that demographic factors affected alcohol consumption during the pandemic:

  • Women were more likely (33% as opposed to 24%) to have increased their drinking than men.
  • Highly educated people were more likely to have started drinking more (32%) than those without a bachelor’s degree (25%).
  • Fewer retirees (20%) reported drinking more than employed and currently unemployed participants, 31% of whom were consuming more alcohol.
  • People living in rural areas were less likely to have upped their alcohol intake (25%) compared with those living in suburban and urban areas (31%).

Click here to read the full article in Medical News Today.

Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/depression-anxiety-spur-pandemic-alcohol-consumption and Depression, anxiety spur pandemic alcohol consumption (preventionconversation.org)