Alberta Health Services promotes National Addictions Awareness Week

Sarah Cole
Public Health Promotion Facilitator
Alberta Health Services
National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW) is November 13-19, 2016. NAAW highlights issues and solutions to help address alcohol, substance use and problem gambling. It provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about substance abuse prevention, to talk about treatment and recovery, and to bring forward solutions for change.

Addiction prevention is about supporting individuals, families and communities to reduce substance misuse and encourage positive mental health and well-being. Small actions can make big difference in building resiliency within individuals, families and communities.

Be a positive role model for a child. Remember how good it felt to have a caring adult in your life? Someone who was there for you, listened to you and believed in you. Children who have positive relationships with an adult have better mental health, improved self-esteem and confidence. They are less likely to misuse drugs or alcohol and are more likely to stay in school.

As a parent, talk openly and honestly to your children about tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Listen to your child or teen, be respectful and encourage them to ask questions. Share appropriate stories and try not to scare them or sound judgmental. It’s never too early to talk to children about alcohol and other drugs. Your conversations will change as they grow and develop.

Schools have the opportunity to create a positive space for students by encouraging positive social norms, promoting healthy relationships, supporting staff wellness, teaching resiliency skills and providing opportunities for student involvement. Effective prevention strategies in schools teach life skills such as emotion management, effective decision making, effective communication skills and conflict management. All of these are more effective than guest speakers, drug education and recreational alternatives.

Employers can make a difference educating and informing employees about addiction, mental health and healthy living. Provide resources and support such as programs to quit smoking, employee and family assistance programs and performance management training for managers and supervisors.
Encourage employees to look after their own health. A business can save money while supporting the health of their employees. Concerned about a co-worker, friend or family member? Let them know that you are there for them and there are services available that they can access.Encourage them to get help.

We all deal with stress differently. To be healthy and safe you need to look after your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Some things you can do to be healthier include eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, reducing or stopping behaviour that puts your health at risk and finding healthy ways to deal with stress.

Check out the Addiction Prevention Toolkit at

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