National Addictions Awareness Week 2023 combats gambling stigma

The week runs Nov. 19-25

Canada’s National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW) 2023 is in full swing, running from Nov. 19-25. This yearly initiative, organized by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), aims to raise awareness about addiction and reduce the stigma that surrounds it. It also includes raising awareness of the harm associated with gambling addiction.

NAAW is a time for Canadians to learn more about addiction and how to support people looking for help. It allows people to engage in discussions, share valuable information, and promote resources. In particular, gambling addiction concerns are addressed by organizations that take part in NAAW events, recognizing the considerable impact this can have on individuals and communities, both socially and economically.

This year’s NAAW theme is “Inspiration, Innovation, and Inclusion”, which focuses on supporting new ideas around prevention and treatment and listening to people who have struggled with addiction.

In line with the theme, Canada’s largest province-wide health system, Alberta Health Services (AHS), is expanding access to treatment and support for Albertans no matter where they live.

Events set to take place later this week include the Substance Use Health Resource Fair hosted by the Umbrella Project and Carleton Wellness. The fair will take place from 11:00 to 16:00 on Nov. 22, and also look at gambling awareness and harm reduction.

Health Canada, in a statement from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, underscored the importance of compassion in addressing addiction:

“No one chooses to develop an addiction. It is a medical condition that affects the brain, and like any medical condition, it is treatable, it is deserving of care and it should be discussed with compassion.”

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) recognizes the unique challenges of addiction, proposing six practical tips to guide CAF members towards healthier choices, including promoting substance-free activities and encouraging help-seeking.

National Addictions Awareness Week is not only about acknowledging the problem but also showcasing ongoing efforts to support those affected. Communities across Canada are encouraged to engage in events to raise awareness and destigmatize addiction, aligning with the collective goal of achieving a healthier and more inclusive society.

The Tree of Peace Friendship Centre kicked off NAAW with a wellness walk in downtown Yellowknife on Monday afternoon. Christina Moore from the centre said they are “hoping to motivate individuals who are struggling and showing them that recovery is possible and they’re not alone in their journey.”

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