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National Addictions Awareness Week

November 20-26, 2022

During the week of November 20-26, we joined the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in recognizing National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW).

NAAW highlights solutions to help address the harms related to alcohol and other drug use. It provides an opportunity to learn more about prevention, talk about treatment and recovery, and develop solutions. This year, the spotlight focused on how different communities across the country are helping those in their community with problematic substance use or have a substance use disorder.

Communities come in all shapes and sizes. It’s about showing how collaborating as a community, a Community of Caring, makes change happen.

There are many ways you can help reduce the harms of substance use:

1) Use person-first language which focuses on the individual, not on the substance use. Language used is an important factor in reducing stigma and breaking down negative stereotypes associated with substance use disorders. By using non-stigmatizing language, those who are experiencing challenges may experience fewer barriers to accessing supports. CCSA provides a primer on how you can overcome stigma through language here.

2) Understand that substance use is on a spectrum. Substance use ranges from abstinence to dependence to severe dependence. People who use drugs and/or alcohol may be anywhere on the continuum of substance use. No matter where they are on the continuum, access to supports will help reduce harms of substance use.

3) Learn about harm reduction strategies. Harm reduction is an evidence-based, client-centred approach that seeks to reduce the health and social harms associated with substance use, without necessarily requiring people who use substances from abstaining or stopping. We engage in harm reduction in our everyday lives to minimize a risk, such a wearing a helmet when riding a bike or enforcing seatbelts when driving a car. One form of harm reduction, specifically for drinking or gambling, is “knowing your limit”. One additional substance use harm reduction strategy every average person should know is how to prevent death from opioid overdose. This can include administering naloxone. Learn more here.

4) Support safer supply approaches. The unregulated street drug supply is highly toxic with unexpected, increasingly potent opioids that cause accidental fatal overdoses. We can save lives by offering safer supply programs. Learn more about safer supply here.

5) Know where to find help.  If you or someone you care about wants help for changing their drug use, help is available. Contact CMHA Thames Valley by visiting our website or call ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600.

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