Shine A Light: Mental Wellness and Addiction

On August 31, the world recognizes International Overdose Awareness day and mourns those lost to addiction.

Research has proven a relationship between addiction and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These traumatic experiences, such as living in a home with an addicted parent, regularly experiencing mental or physical abuse, and experiencing neglect, can have profound effects on young people that persist into adulthood.

Young people with multiple ACEs are more likely to experiment with alcohol at an early age (and coincidentally decrease the effectiveness of underage drinking programs if they don’t help youth recognize and cope with the stressors leading to that behaviour). They are much more likely to use illicit drugs at a young age and to smoke. Childhood abuse and parental substance abuse are associated with a higher risk of developing a mental or substance abuse disorder later in life.1

Those with four or more ACEs are:

– 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide
– 4.6 times more likely to be depressed
– 7 times more likely to be an alcoholic
– 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs

ACEs are also associated with the development of physical health issues, such as liver disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, injuries, HIV and STIs.

At CUPS, we ask our clients about the ACEs they’ve experienced and take a trauma-informed approach to help them address their physical and mental health challenges. That means that we seek to address both their immediate symptoms as well as the fundamental underlying issues that cause them.

“When clients access CUPS Opioid Agonist Therapy program, through a trauma-informed care approach we feel we are able to build trusting and lasting relationships. This, in turn, keeps them engaged with our program and opens the doors to other programs available through CUPS such as Housing, Shared Care Mental Health, and the Liver Clinic,” says Taralyn Nelson, a Licensed Practical Nurse with CUPS. “We feel this program is not only life-prolonging but decreases the number of emergency room visits and allows for personal growth within the clients.”

What can you do to help us help those impacted by ACEs? You can #ShineALight!

Your support of our program helps us to provide mental wellness care to the most vulnerable Calgarians. To #ShineALight on the root causes of addiction. To let those at risk of overdose know that someone understands their pain and wants to help.




#ShineALight on the Numbers

● 1 in 10 Calgarians live in poverty

● 1 in 4 Canadians lives with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes

● 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness or addiction problems each year

● 4 million people in Canada experience food insecurity

● 1 in 8 Canadian households struggle to put food on the table.

● An estimated 45% of the overall homeless population are individuals living with mental illness

● 28 – 34% of shelter users are Indigenous peoples

● 40% of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty

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