Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

CCSA’s Focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences

Early childhood experiences shape our minds and play a large role in how we interact with the world. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can increase the risk for later physical and mental illness, including addiction. Examples of ACEs include abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. Understanding how ACEs affect brain development and shape health outcomes is essential for identifying risks and harms. Such understanding also identifies points of intervention to try to prevent or treat substance use later in life. CCSA is collaborating with the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, the developer of the Brain Story, to raise understanding of these issues.

The Brain Story describes for non-experts the science behind the relationships among ACEs, brain development and health outcomes. CCSA is promoting the understanding of Brain Story science across Canada. We will help raise awareness and encourage its application through two ongoing activities:

  • Promoting Brain Story certification to spread foundational knowledge and to advance professional development across sectors linked with child and family welfare, and substance use; and
  • Hosting the Brain Builders Lab, a Canada-wide project that brings people together to help develop in their communities initiatives built on Brain Story learning.

The goal of this project is to address childhood risk for substance use and addiction. We also aim to raise awareness of substance use as a public health issue, reduce stigma, and change policy and practice accordingly.

Our Experts

Doris Payer, PhD
Knowledge Broker
Sarah Konefal, PhD
Research and Policy Analyst


What Is the Brain Story?

The Brain Story is a body of knowledge that describes how early childhood experiences affect our long-term psychological, emotional and physical health. It describes how ACEs can influence substance use later in life. The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative has developed an online resource that presents Brain Story science to non-experts, including an in-depth certification course eligible for professional accreditation and continuing medical education credits.

Addiction News Daily

May 7, 2019

Brain Story Certification Course now available in French

Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) & Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA)
All Adverse Childhood Experiences news from Addiction News Daily

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