Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

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 illnesses, 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. This information can also help to identify points of intervention to try to prevent or treat substance use later in life.

CCSA is collaborating with the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI), the developer of the Brain Story. The Brain Story describes for non-experts the science and the relationships among ACEs, brain development and health outcomes. Our goal is to expand the reach, accessibility and understanding of Brain Story science by promoting and translating AFWI’s Brain Story certification course. We also aim to raise awareness of substance use as a public health issue, reduce stigma, and change policy and practice accordingly.

Through our partnership with AFWI, we have:

  • Translated the Brain Story certification course into French to increase accessibility and use for Canadians in both of our official languages;
  • Promoted Brain Story certification to raise awareness of the course and its application to advance professional development across sectors linked with child and family welfare, and substance use;
  • Hosted the Brain Builders Lab, a Canada-wide project that brought people together to help develop and integrate into their communities initiatives based on Brain Story learning.

Register for the Brain Story certification course using our unique English or French links. To learn more about Brain Story science and CCSA’s involvement, please contact

We’re proud to be a part of the growing Brain Builders community.

Our Experts

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

Featured Resource

The resource, Brain Builder Learning Cards, is intended for double-sided printing, on card stock, by a commercial printer.

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