Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery

NWT Addictions Awareness Week

November 20 - 26, 2022 is NWT Addictions Awareness Week!

This year, the theme of National Addictions Awareness Week is – A Community of Caring. By learning more and shifting our ideas and attitudes towards substance use, we can better support those around us experiencing addictions or living in addictions recovery.

An addiction is a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble). 

Today, 1 out of 10 Canadians experiences challenges with substance use. In 2018, 74% of NWT residents aged 15 years and older reported they currently drink alcohol, while 39% reported drinking 5 or more drinks on one occasion.

Addiction impacts all of us - whether personally or through family and friends.  Yet, 8 out of 10 Canadians living with a substance use disorder say they have experienced barriers to recovery, including stigma (CCSA, 2019).

What can I do to help drive change?

You can make a choice to play a part in driving change around addictions by:

  • Learning about addictions: substance use disorders are real medical conditions just like other health challenges such as diabetes and arthritis. Addictions are not a choice or a failure.  Often, people need help to recover. Addictions are common and affect people from all walks of life. 
  • Learning about the stigma around addictions: Stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs about people living with mental health and/or addictions concerns. Many people say the stigma can be worse than the illness itself. Self-stigma is when a person begins to believe the negative things that others and the media are saying, which can lead to shame, hesitation to reach out for help, fewer opportunities, and feelings of isolation.
  • Choosing to use language that reduces stigma around addictions: Commonly used words like ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’ label a person and can keep stigma alive. Choosing ‘person-first language’ helps to reduce stigma. ‘Person-first language’ acknowledges someone as being a person before describing their health condition. For example, saying: ‘a person living with a substance use disorder’ or ‘an individual with lived or living experience with addiction’.
  • Supporting individuals with lived or living experience with addiction. If you have a loved one experiencing addictions, support their choices, and encourage them as they take steps toward recovery. Mental wellness and addictions recovery looks different for everyone. Respect people’s choices when it comes to using or not using substances. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. For more ideas, view:

What help is available for addictions in the NWT?   

There are several in-person and online supports available to support people in their recovery, including counselling, facility-based addictions treatment, online aftercare support, on the land healing, and community-led peer support gatherings. Please click here for more information on these and other supports.

Addictions recovery is the process through which a person is able to live a satisfying, hopeful, and meaningful life (as defined by the individual), even when there are ongoing limitations caused by mental health and/or addictions issues. Addictions recovery is also a deeply personal process that is unique to the individual. What works for one person, might not work for another. Click here to see an Addictions Recovery infographic that shows a variety of formal and informal supports that an individual might use at different points along their healing journey.

Some NWT communities have peer support or self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and most groups provide online or phone meeting options. Here are peer support/self-help groups in Canada for individuals with lived or living experience with addictions:

Watch our NWT Addictions Awareness Week playlist:


For information on National Addictions Awareness Week, please click here.