Statement from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health on National Addictions Awareness Week


November 21, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada

This week is National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW), a chance for Canadians to learn more about addiction, talk openly about prevention, treatment and recovery, and reduce the stigma surrounding substance use.

Many people are impacted by addiction. In Canada, approximately 21% of the population, or nearly 6 million people, will meet the criteria for addiction in their lifetime. Every person who is struggling with substance use is someone's loved one - a parent, child, sibling, friend, co-worker, or neighbour. They too need our support and compassion.

The factors that contribute to a person developing an addiction are complex and can include trauma, stress, mental illness, genetics and biology. People may use substances for different reasons but no one chooses to develop an addiction. Moreover, addiction changes the brain, making it hard for people to stop using substances even when they want to. 

Sadly, people who have an addiction often feel vulnerable, isolated and judged. That is why this year's NAAW theme: A Community of Caring, is so important, as it shines a light on community efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding substance use and promote the treatment of people living with addiction with compassion, respect and empathy.

I encourage us all to be part of this community by making it easier for people to talk about their substance use or addiction. If you know someone struggling with addiction, please be a listening ear, help them get support. I also encourage everyone to listen to real life stories on how stigma impacts people who use substances. Just sincerely asking the question ‘how are you doing' can create a space for people with problematic substance use to feel safe enough to open up and sometime can provide the first step on a better path.

If you are struggling with mental health challenges and addiction, please know that you're not alone. There are programs and services that can help, including Wellness Together Canada which is free and confidential, and available 24/7.

Supervised consumption sites are also safe spaces that provide access to harm reduction services, such as drug checking, which helps reduce the risk of using a toxic and potentially fatal substance. They also provide important health and social services for those experiencing addiction. Most of all, they foster trusting relationships with people who care. You are not alone.

During this year's National Addictions Awareness Week, help us spread the message by using the hashtags #CommunityCaring and #NAAW2022 on your social media posts.

We all have a role to play in establishing a pan-Canadian ‘Community of Caring' which reaches out to those struggling with compassion, respect and empathy.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.


Maja Staka
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

Search for related information by keyword: Drug use | Health Canada | Canada | Substance use | media | statements

Page details

Date modified: