New Resources for Collaborative Conversations on Substance Use with Girls and Women

Two new resources are available for health and social service providers to assist them in providing brief intervention on substance use with women and girls. Both were introduced in a June 4th Webinar on the Dialogue to Action on Discussing Alcohol with Women project. The research and consultation arising from this project promote a broader use of brief intervention, in the form of conversations about the health effects of substances and women’s relationship to substance use, not only case finding for problematic use. This is particularly relevant in the context of alcohol use in pregnancy, where any drinking, not only harmful substance and addiction is of concern.

During 13 regional meetings across professions and practice approaches, a common theme emerged:

In general, clinical guidelines recommend that screening be conducted with all women, and that service providers should continue to provide additional information or conduct brief interventions with only the small percentage of women who “screen positive.” This was seen as focusing on women’s behaviour in a way that might be perceived as judgmental or stigmatizing (e.g., “Yes, you are at risk because of _____”) and limiting opportunities to discuss issues connected to women’s substance use (e.g., mental wellness, gender-based violence) with all women. –excerpt from “Doorways to Conversation”

Service providers emphasized that brief interventions were valued as an opportunity to develop open and ongoing dialogue about substance use and interconnected health concerns, whereas screening tools tended to use close-ended questions (e.g., yes/no, # of drinks) and be focussed narrowly on substance use, in ways not necessarily suited to their setting. Doorways to Conversation: Brief Intervention on Substance Use with Girls and Women offers adaptations that providers from a variety of professions and practices can use to begin or enhance their conversations with girls and women. In this way curiosity and learning about the effects of substances can be increased in helpful, non-stigmatizing ways.

50 Brief Intervention Ideas for Dialogue, Skill Building, and Empowerment is an excerpt from the previous resource and serves as a quick reference for providers. The 50 ideas are grouped together according to service type and illustrate how brief interventions can become a natural part of good overall care in a variety of settings: primary care, preconception care, prenatal care, sexual health, anti-violence services, and with various groups: girls and young women, and women and their partners.

With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and FASD National Strategic Project Fund, project goals were to reduce stigma, support engagement in further care and treatment, and improve the overall health and well-being of girls and women. Project evidence summaries and resource lists provided a baseline for discussions on current practices of providers, opportunities to expand brief intervention across roles and profession, and ways to align with child protection practice/policies and perinatal data gathering.

See earlier posts on these topics:



Innu Community FASD Prevention in Labrador

Back Row (L to R): Simeon Poker, Kathleen Benuen, Brenda Gear, Amanda Mogridge, Nancy Poole, Beverley Nuna, Lyla Andrew, Melody Morton Ninomiya, Gabriel Rich. Front Row (L to R): Ruby Poker, June Fry, Joanna Michel, Elizabeth Antoine, Annie Picard. Missing in Photo: Julia O’Brien. Regrets: Martyne Nui, Pam Gough

Prevention Network Action Team members Melody Morton Ninomiya and Nancy Poole were invited to an Innu community in Labrador, Sheshatshiu, on October 14, 2017 to co-facilitate a day-long session about FASD prevention. The day began with a powerful presentation by Annie Picard of the timeline for the Sheshatshiu and Mushuau (settled in Natuashish) people from pre-1950 times of nomadic living on the land, to settlement, colonization and trauma, as well as many points of resistance and resilience.

The participants from both Sheshatshiu and Natuashish communities who attended the session described how FASD has touched their lives as community leaders, parents of children with FASD, and service providers.

The group viewed an online clip from a remote Australian community which had built a community-wide FASD prevention and intervention model (see the Marulu Strategy at  There are many parallels between the remote Labrador and the Fitzroy Valley communities, and the successful community-wide action on FASD prevention screening, diagnosis and support, capacity-building and resourcing in Australia was inspiring.

The group discussed how/where the 4 levels of FASD prevention model fit for their community.  The group identified a number of locations in the community where education and action of FASD prevention might be introduced or enhanced. Melody and Nancy will continue to act as resources for these communities as they begin to develop community-wide FASD prevention strategies.

4 Levels of FASD Prevention – Innu and English


For more on this topic, see earlier posts below:



The Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy Blog is 4 years old today!


Yes, that’s right, the Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy blog is 4 years old today!

Thank you to everyone who reads our blog for your continuing support. There were over 40,000 visits from you lovely people from all over the world (as you can see in the map below).

Year 4 map

Just in case you’re interested, here are the top 10 most viewed posts since July 2013.

  1. Postcolonial Theory for Beginners
  2. Films from the Lililwan Project: Tristan and Marulu
  3. Pregnancy and Alcohol Brochure for Aboriginal Families
  4. Streetworks’ Supports for Homeless Pregnant Women project
  5. “Alcohol? Know Your Limit” campaign from Germany
  6. Alcohol Think Again Campaign in Western Australia
  7. Do concerns about alcohol use during pregnancy lead women to consider having an abortion?
  8. FASD Prevention in South Africa
  9. FASD Prevention in France
  10. Psychological distress and maternal drinking: exploring the context of risk for FASD

Here are some of my favorite posts for the year (based on newsworthiness, interest, and other unquantifiable factors).

  1. Honouring Our Strengths: Culture as Intervention in Addictions Treatment (June 5, 2014)
  2. How Men Can Help Prevent FASD (March 11, 2014)
  3. Impact Evaluation of the Healthy, Empowered and Resilient (H.E.R.) Pregnancy Program in Edmonton, Alberta (February 7, 2014)
  4. Cancer and Alcohol: Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (January 27, 2014)
  5. Advice for Journalists Reporting on FASD (November 18, 2013)

This blog is an initiative of the Canada FASD Research Network. Learn more about our activities by visiting our website.

Danish campaign suggests that everyone “Stick a Cork in it” on October 11th

Check out this article “Annual fall anti-drinking campaign underway” (October 3, 2012) in The Copenhagen Post on a low risk drinking campaign in Denmark.

The Danish national health board, Sundhedsstyrelsen, has been running an annual fall campaign with print, TV and billboard ads to promote moderate drinking.

Sundhedsstyrelsen suggests that women should drink no more than 7 drinks per week and that men should drink no more than 14 drinks a week.

This year, the campaign has a focus on the link between cancer and alcohol, including detailed information on breast cancer.

In terms of alcohol use during pregnancy, the campaign website recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive avoid alcohol. “There is no lower limit for maternal consumption of alcohol during which it is safe to say that alcohol consumption will be harmless to the fetus.”

As a way of supporting the campaign, Sundhedsstyrelsen is asking that everyone  ‘Stick a Cork in it” on Thursday, October 11th and completely abstain from drinking.

Check out this article on the 2009 campaign which focused on youth ages 16-25. You can also take a look at the World Health Organization’s alcohol and health profile on Denmark here.

For more on low-risk drinking/moderation campaigns in other countries, see previous posts:

GWAP is 2 years old today!

Top Posts for the Year

Yes, that’s right, the Girls, Women, Alcohol, and Pregnancy blog is 2 years old today!

Thank you to everyone who reads our blog for your continuing support.

Just in case you’re interested, here are the top 10 most viewed posts since July 2011.

  1. FASD Prevention in France
  2. FASD Prevention in South Africa
  3. Postcolonial Theory for Beginners
  4. Pregnancy and Alcohol Brochure for Aboriginal Families
  5. FASD Prevention 101
  6. Alcohol Marketing in the 21st Century
  7. Mocktails, anyone?
  8. Politics of alcohol warning labels: Australia and Canada
  9. FASD Initiatives in Western Australia
  10. Are shock tactics effective?

It’s a pretty random assortment. Some of my favorite posts for the year (based on newsworthiness, interest, and other unquantifiable factors) are:

  1. New mothers reluctant to participate in voluntary meconium testing pilot program
  2. FASD Prevention in Kimmirut, Nunavut
  3. Alcohol and Pregnancy Infographic
  4. FASD Awareness Day 2011
  5. Alcohol and pregnancy – how is the evidence shaping up?

See last year’s birthday post here.

Please feel free to leave us a comment every now and then and let us know what you find helpful or interesting or whatever else is on your mind. We don’t mind a little controversy, really….

Happy Birthday!

Top Posts for the Year

It’s hard to believe, but our Girls, Women, Alcohol and Pregnancy blog is a year old today!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making it a success by reading, sharing, suggesting, and supporting. Since we started, we’ve had over 18,000 visits to the blog – hurray! – and have added over 175 posts.

WordPress has wonderful tools for tracking what people have been reading over the past year. Here are the top 10 most viewed posts since July 2010:

  1. FASD Initiatives in Western Australia
  2. FASD Awareness Day 2010
  3. Mariah Carey drinks alcohol on-stage as a way of further denying pregnancy rumours
  4. Thinking About Meconium Screening
  5. Postcolonial Theory for Beginners
  6. Alcohol and Colonization in Māori Society
  7. Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnancy
  8. FASD Prevention in South Africa
  9. Sam’s Bear: A children’s storybook that raises awareness of brain development and FASD
  10. Mocktails, anyone?

And, just in case anyone is interested, here are some of my favorite posts for the year that didn’t make it onto the all-time list:

  1. Are shock tactics effective?
  2. FASD Prevention in France
  3. Test your knowledge with a quick look inside the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health
  4. It’s not only about alcohol
  5. Study Stirs Up Public Uncertainty and Media Discussion
  6. “It should be between her and her doctor — not anybody else.”
  7. What’s your memory of the future?
  8. The Politics of Reproductive Risk Warnings

One of the things we are trying to accomplish through this blog is to look at the issue of FASD prevention from multiple angles, levels, and perspectives. The more and more you delve into the issue, the clearer it becomes that prevention has little to do with telling women not to drink during pregnancy. As such, we’ve aimed for breadth and diversity in terms of the topics covered. We’d love to hear any feedback you might have – leave us a comment on how you use the blog to support your work and if there’s anything you’d like to see more of.

And, if you’re trying to remember who the people are behind this blog, visit the Canada Northwest FASD Research Network web site or read about our team in an interview on the Ontario 211 web site.


Who coined the term “mocktail” anyway?

Well, it just so happens that I bumped into an article from a 1983 issue of American Speech where the answer was to be found (please don’t ask how I seemed to be randomly browsing such an esoteric journal).

Philip Kolin says: The coinage mocktail appears for the first time, I believe, in an advertisement for Libbey Glass in Food Service Marketing (Feb. 1979, p. 76). According to that ad, mocktails “are a relatively new group of beverages prepared without any alcohol whatsoever.” Kolin comments that the ad was for a new line of mocktail glassware (I had no idea that glassware was so specialized – perhaps because most of mine was purchased at Ikea).

He further states, clearly with the air of someone who loves language: Mocktail is a clever invention. It humorously rhymes with cocktail, but has a semantically appropriate first syllable. Mocktails are literally mock cocktails, with the sense of mock in mock chicken or mock turtle soup. The -tail of the second syllable of mocktail, however, has acquired a new meaning-that of the unshortened (and unadulterated) cocktail.

If the term mocktail has only been around since the late 1970s, what about the term cocktail? Well according to a Wikipedia article, the term cocktail first appeared in print in 1806 where it was described as a ” stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.”

Just a little etymology to start your week.



Kolin, P.C. (1983). Mocktails, Anyone? American Speech, 58(2): 190-191.

What’s your memory of the future?

“So, basically, there are parts of the brain that control how we plan for the future and in many ways imagine our future based on past and present experience …. What’s interesting about memory of the future is that it relies on those parts of the brain that have been shown to be negatively affected by abuse of drugs and alcohol.” (Daddow, 2010)

Check out this interesting article by Rebecca Daddow, coordinator of the User Centred Drug Services project at London’s Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA).

Daddow comments on how many of the participants in the RSA study who have struggled with addiction are often unable to provide answers about where they see themselves in the future. She cites work by D.H. Ingvar who describes how “memory of the future” is connected to certain parts of the brain.

This is an interesting connection as, from a service provider perspective, we know how important it is for individuals with addictions to have hope, expectancy, future-orientation, whatever you want to call it. Ingvar’s work suggests that sometimes imagining a future beyond the present might be more difficult than we think.