Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/researchers-consider-how-to-denormalize-drinking-culture-ahead-of-new-alcohol-guide-1.6228451

Camille Bains
The Canadian Press

Lee-Anne Richardson is celebrating the three-year anniversary of a support group she founded for people who’ve decided to ditch alcohol or cut back as part of what she considers a movement toward healthier living, especially by younger generations.

Richardson, 38, said she spent much of her 20s binge-drinking. She blames alcohol for destroying many of her relationships and says her self-esteem plummeted as she tried to control how much she consumed.

The turning point came after another night out with friends at a bar in March 2014 when Richardson realized she either had to quit drinking or “something very, very bad is going to happen.”

After attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, Richardson realized she needed to replace the social connections she’d made during her “drinking career” with more positive ones while also supporting others through their own journey to sobriety or less alcohol.

In January 2020, she launched a group called Sober City and soon heard from people who were drinking more in isolation during pandemic lockdowns due to boredom and/or anxiety.

Richardson was surprised to learn how much alcohol is considered a “low risk” based on Canada’s current low-risk drinking guidelines — up to two drinks a day, or 10 a week for women and three daily drinks, or 15 per week, for men.

“That’s a fair amount. This is a poison that we’re talking about,” she said of the links to heart disease and cancer associated with alcohol.

The guidelines, set in 2011, are expected to be updated next week by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Proposed changes released last summer suggest Canada’s recommendations will dramatically decrease.

In its proposal, the centre said research suggests health-related risk from alcohol is negligible to low when consuming two drinks per week; moderate for three-to-six drinks per week; and increasingly high beyond that.

Overall, it recommends no more than two drinks a week.

The update is expected Tuesday after two years of research, a review of nearly 6,000 peer-reviewed studies and about 1,000 survey submissions from the public. Part of the project was funded by Health Canada.

The research includes the impact of alcohol in areas such as women’s health and the association between alcohol use, aggression and violence, the CCSA said. It’s aiming to launch an online advertising campaign by February to raise awareness.

Richardson believes a potential dramatic shift in the guideline is in line with what she’s heard from people in their 20s and 30s about the importance of their mental health and that excessive drinking is “not really that cool.”

“They know that drinking makes mental health and anxiety worse. They’re seeing it,” said Richardson, a data analyst for a shipbuilding company.

However, Catherine Paradis, interim co-chair of the CCSA’s updated guidance project, said the recommendation for Canadians to consider reducing their alcohol intake is “not an easy ask” for those who enjoy drinking regularly, so policy changes will need to be made to highlight the risks.

“A particularly effective one could be the mandatory labelling of all alcoholic beverages with the number of standard drinks, Canada’s guidance on alcohol, and health warnings,” Paradis said, adding that would involve the federal and/or provincial governments.

“People will need support from governments. We will need to shape our whole drinking environment differently so there will need to be policies that promote public health,” she said.

Alcohol is known to affect various organs, putting people at increased risk for cirrhosis, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, multiple cancers as well as injury from falls and motor vehicle crashes.

Erin Hobin, a senior scientist at Ontario Public Health and a member of the scientific advisory committee responsible for reviewing the evidence on the updated guidance, said there is relatively low public awareness about the health impacts of alcohol other than increased risk of birth defects for those who drink during pregnancy.

Hobin was a lead investigator on a 2020 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. It suggested 24.5 per cent of 836 liquor store patrons surveyed at three liquor stores in Yukon and Northwest Territories in 2017 were aware of alcohol-related cancer risks. The study was led by the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.

The idea behind the updated guidance is to provide Canadians with the latest evidence-based information about the health risks involved, Hobin said.

“Alcohol is present at weddings and anniversaries and birthday parties; on Friday night to relax after a long week of work. So how do we start to shift the Canadian culture around alcohol to denormalize alcohol? Perhaps (warning) labels may play a role in starting this,” she said.

Click here to read the full article.


Join us at the Canada FASD Conference 2023!

Logo for the Canada FASD Conference 2023, November 7-9, 2023 in Saskatoon, SK featuring a line drawing of the Saskatoon skyline.

It’s finally happening! CanFASD is hosting a national conference on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The Canada FASD Conference 2023 is coming to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan November 7-9, 2023.  

What’s it about?

This conference will bring people from across Canada together to share how research and evidence can inform tangible solutions to address the complexities of FASD. This year’s theme is Connect, Inspire, Innovate: From Evidence to Action.  

What should I expect?

Attendees can expect lots of opportunities to learn and connect with other people who are passionate about FASD. This three-day event will include keynote presentations, workshops, poster sessions, and various speakers. It is being held at TCU Place in Saskatoon. The event will be limited to 500 people. 

Who should come?

Anyone and everyone that is passionate about FASD and neurodevelopmental disabilities are invited. This conference is a great opportunity for:

  • Developmental disability researchers, especially those focused on FASD;
  • Individuals with FASD, their family members, and those that care for them;
  • FASD professionals, including those working in diagnostic clinics and support programs;
  • Professionals working in child welfare and social services;
  • Policymakers and government representatives;
  • Educators and school staff;
  • Mental health, substance use and addictions professionals;
  • Individuals focused on FASD prevention and women’s health promotion;
  • Doctors, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare practitioners;
  • Lawyers, corrections officers, police, judges, and other law and justice professionals;
  • And many more!

Canadian and international attendees are welcome! Stay tuned to the CanFASD channels for more information on registration and keep an eye out for our upcoming call for abstracts.

If you’d like to attend, please fill out our interest form to stay up to date on the latest conference news and updates.

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2023/01/11/join-us-at-the-canada-fasd-conference-2023/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=join-us-at-the-canada-fasd-conference-2023


FASD Online Learning Opportunities this Holiday Season

Optimistic young women crowded around a laptop computer

In total over 30,000 people have taken our online courses, which is incredible. Here are a few course updates to share with you before the holiday season!

The Prevention Conversation

Dedicated to the prevention of FASD and improving women’s health and wellbeing, this course gives frontline health and social service professionals the skills and knowledge to support non-judgemental conversations about alcohol use in pregnancy. We recently updated this course to reflect best practice wisdom and evidence, incorporate diverse peoples and knowledge systems through the addition of new content, reflection questions, and artwork from Indigenous artists from across Canada and the US, and added new resources and content to support practitioners working in different practice settings.

FASD for School Staff

This is one of our most popular courses. It is intended for all school staff, from teachers to principals to office administrators to bus drivers and everyone in between. The course will give you the skills and knowledge you need to help individuals with FASD succeed in school. It covers topics like teaching strategies, school accommodations, and transition planning. Our team updated this course earlier in the year to ensure the information and research is complete and accurate.

FASD for Community and Social Service Professionals

Launched earlier this year, this course is an incredible resource for frontline service providers working directly with individuals with FASD. Community and social service workers in housing, employment programs, shelters and crisis services, FASD Networks, and financial and disability services regularly interact with individuals with FASD. This course will give you the skills you need to effectively advocate for and support people with FASD and their families.

COMING SOON Substance Use Treatment and FASD

This course shares evidence-based knowledge and best practices on how to support individuals with FASD with substance use treatment.

More Learning

These are just a sampling of the many courses that we offer to help professionals and community members better understand and support individuals with FASD. Check out our website to learn more about our other courses, including:

Retrieved from https://canfasd.ca/2022/12/21/fasd-online-learning-opportunities-this-holiday-season/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fasd-online-learning-opportunities-this-holiday-season



If you are thinking about talking to youth about alcohol, it can be hard to
know where to start. You might be unsure about the subject and you might
worry that if you raise the topic of alcohol, it will somehow encourage
experimentation. The intention of this resource is to help alleviate some of
these worries by providing you with information to help you talk to youth
about alcohol, and by encouraging you, as adults, to think about your answers
to these questions:

• What do my own decisions about alcohol role model?
• Do I know how to communicate with youth about alcohol
and health?
• Am I helping youth make responsible decisions?
• Am I helping youth to cope with pressure from their peer group?
• Do I understand why youth might use alcohol and how to recognize
the signs of alcohol use?

Being open and inviting conversations about alcohol can help give children
and teens the support and guidance they need to make healthy decisions.


Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/12/16/alcohol-and-health-series-talk-with-youth-about-alcohol/



Luke S, Hobbs AJ, Smith M, Riddell C, Murphy P, Agborsangaya C, et al. (2022) Cannabis use in pregnancy and maternal and infant outcomes: A Canadian cross-jurisdictional population-based cohort study. PLoS ONE 17(11): e0276824. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0276824



With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, there is an urgent need to understand the effect of cannabis use in pregnancy. Our population-based study investigated the effects of prenatal cannabis use on maternal and newborn outcomes, and modification by infant sex.


The cohort included 1,280,447 singleton births from the British Columbia Perinatal Data Registry, the Better Outcomes Registry & Network Ontario, and the Perinatal Program Newfoundland Labrador from April 1st, 2012 to March 31st, 2019. Logistic regression determined the associations between prenatal cannabis use and low birth weight, small-for-gestational age, large-for-gestational age, spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth, very preterm birth, stillbirth, major congenital anomalies, caesarean section, gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. Models were adjusted for other substance use, socio-demographic and-economic characteristics, co-morbidities. Interaction terms were included to investigate modification by infant sex.


The prevalence of cannabis use in our cohort was approximately 2%. Prenatal cannabis use is associated with increased risks of spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth (1.80[1.68–1.93] and 1.94[1.77–2.12], respectively), very preterm birth (1.73[1.48–2.02]), low birth weight (1.90[1.79–2.03]), small-for-gestational age (1.21[1.16–1.27]) and large-for-gestational age (1.06[1.01–1.12]), any major congenital anomaly (1.71[1.49–1.97]), caesarean section (1.13[1.09–1.17]), and gestational diabetes (1.32[1.23–1.42]). No association was found for stillbirth or gestational hypertension. Only small-for-gestational age (p = 0.03) and spontaneous preterm birth (p = 0.04) showed evidence of modification by infant sex.


Prenatal cannabis use increases the likelihood of preterm birth, low birth weight, small-for-gestational age and major congenital anomalies with prenatally exposed female infants showing evidence of increased susceptibility. Additional measures are needed to inform the public and providers of the inherent risks of cannabis exposure in pregnancy.


Retrieved from https://preventionconversation.org/2022/12/09/cannabis-use-in-pregnancy-and-maternal-and-infant-outcomes-a-canadian-cross-jurisdictional-population-based-cohort-study/


Shining Through Film

Produced by POP FASD, this 18-minute video shares the talents and strengths of 2 girls with FASD from British Columbia. It is a heartwarming film with a simple theme: when we build from strengths, we all experience more success.

“Music has always been a part of me. When I’m playing music, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I know how to do something and people don’t have to put me down for it.” 

Watch the full video here. 

To connect with Education Supports in the NW Peace FASD Network reach out to the FASD Instruction Coach Jen@nwfasd.ca to learn about her program and how she can how in the education system.


Exploring Opportunities for Creating Employment

NOTE: THIS HAS BEEN POSTPONED- The information session on Inclusive Employment has been postponed to the new year. A date for this workshop in 2023 will be announced shortly

Are you or are you close to a person with a developmental disability who wants to pursue meaningful employment? Join Inclusion Alberta on the evening of December 7th to discuss strategies for exploring and developing inclusive employment.

To register https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/exploring-opportunities-for-creating-employment-tickets-467673041657


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/