Canada’s ad industry charity nabs has introduced a new service to help members who want to cut back on their use of alcohol and drugs.
The service is being delivered by Alavida (part of Lifespeak, a wellness partner for nabs) and is a free, confidential “therapy-based iCBT” (internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy) program. It starts with a self-assessment about substance use and coping mechanisms to determine what help, if any, may be in order—including asynchronous messaging with addiction counsellors and Alavida coaches, progress and outcome reports and tracking.
Nabs has been monitoring the effects of the pandemic on its members, and concerns about people’s “uneasy relationship” with substances led them to introduce the new program, according to Louise Berube, director, allocations and services.
“This is for anyone who might be wondering if they are using substances too much, and it can also help people that are using too much,” Berube told The Message. “It’s meant to be proactive and help people at any stage, and help them confidentially access supports to make changes.”
It’s not the first new offering from nabs during the pandemic. Last year, it introduced new mental health support for those struggling with the emotional strain of the health crisis.
Togetherall is a 24/7 online peer-to-peer mental health community designed to help users feel less alone and part of a community of people coping with similar issues. Users can get information about depression and anxiety and how to cope with them, for example, and can also access tools and services, or connect with others coping with similar issues.
There have been growing concerns during the pandemic that substance abuse and dependency have been on the rise across society as a whole.
According to Alavida, studies have shown that about 20% of Canadians say they are drinking more, but few seek treatment due to the stigma associated with alcohol or drug use.
“Alavida’s stigma-free, easy to access program allows employees to seek help sooner from the privacy of their smartphones,” said Alavida president Elliot Stone in a release. “Like any other potentially life-threatening disorder, catching it early and offering evidence-based, confidential and easy-to-access treatment is key to increase chances that people will reach out before there’s a crisis, and the treatment will be successful.”
While substance overuse and abuse has been a concern in many industries, alcohol use in particular has long had a unique association with the ad industry.
“Our industry’s culture has normalized alcohol use to celebrate a win, a long week, or any type of milestone event,” said Sunil Sekhar, board member of nabs and vice-president of HR at FCB Canada, in the release. “Many agencies are taking deliberate steps to make their workplaces more inclusive for employees who do not drink, and destigmatizing the reasons someone may make this lifestyle choice. Nabs adding Alavida to their services platform is timely and helps reduce the stigma around substance use.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the new nabs program can do so here.