Addictions Awareness and Prevention

What is Addictions Awareness and Prevention?

Addictions Awareness and Prevention is a core component of the Strengthening the Forces Health Promotion programming. Its mandate is to promote a healthy, addiction free lifestyle within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) community by developing and delivering effective primary interventions such as: providing education in personal skill development; developing an environment that is supportive of an addiction free lifestyle; addressing organizational policies; developing hhealthy public policy and reorienting health services to increase health for all.

Addictions Awareness and Prevention programming is founded on evidence-based practices and adult learning principles. All educational material is designed for adults and is facilitated by experienced and highly knowledgeable health promotion delivery personnel on every base/wing. Alcohol, Other Drugs, Gambling and Gaming Awareness provides current information on topics related to alcohol, other drugs, gambling and gaming.

The Alcohol, Other Drugs, Gambling and Gaming Awareness Supervisor Training prepares those in leadership positions to take an active role in the detection and management of alcohol misuse, drug abuse, gambling and gaming problems to promote an addiction free environment in the workplace. During the month of November each year the Addictions Awareness Campaign takes place. This year, the theme “Go For the Green” will take place on all Bases and Wings. This campaign aims to increase awareness of addiction, and challenges individuals to be mindful of engaging in activities that are responsible, moderate and healthy, thereby protecting all aspects of health. Participants will have increased awareness of when they may be veering out of the ‘green’ or how to stay in the ‘green’. As well, the campaign directs people to resources should they require additional help. If interested in quitting tobacco, Butt Out Tobacco Cessation Program is available. Butt Out uses a combination of behaviour modification, self-directed support, best practices, and nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, patches and medication if necessary to help reduce nicotine withdrawal and increase cessation success.

Addiction Resources


Alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs, with over 95% of CAF members consuming alcohol at least once in the past year. While the majority of individuals who drink do so in moderation, alcohol use has been linked to many health and social concerns in our society. CAF alcohol policies outline how some of these concerns are to be addressed within the organization.

In an effort to reduce the harm associated with alcohol use the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) has published the Canadian Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines to help healthy adults of legal drinking age make an informed decision about the amount of alcohol they choose to drink. Strengthening the Forces recommends these guidelines for CAF personnel who are not alcohol dependent. However, there are some people to whom these guidelines do not apply.

Modules in Alcohol, Other Drugs, Gambling and Gaming Awareness have been designed to increase knowledge and understanding of a variety of issues related to alcohol. For more information, contact your Base/Wing Health Promotion Office.

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Other Drugs

Because of the implications on operational readiness, safety of both members and the public, security, discipline, reliability, cohesion and morale, it is CAF policy that any unauthorized use or other illegal involvement with drugs by CAF members will not be tolerated. The Canadian Forces Drug Control Program established under QR&O, Chapter 20 is a comprehensive instrument to combat unauthorized use and other illegal involvement with drugs. The essential elements of the program are education, deterrence, detection, treatment and rehabilitation.

Modules in Alcohol, Other Drugs, Gambling and Gaming Awareness will increase one’s knowledge and understanding of other drug issues. For more information, contact your Base/Wing Health Promotion Office.

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Gambling and Gaming


Historically, gambling was a social pastime that has been enjoyed throughout the ages. Archeologists discovered evidence that people in Egypt, China, Japan, and Greece played games of chance with dice and other devices as far back as 2000 B.C.

For more than two decades, the gambling industry has experienced significant growth in most Canadian provinces. Today, in Canada, there are more than 80 permanent casinos, 87,000 gambling machines (slot machines and video lottery terminals), 33,000 lottery ticket centers, 250 racetracks and teletheatres, and 25,000 licenses to run various bingo, temporary casinos, raffles, pull tickets and other activities. There are also 2,500 Internet gambling sites. Online poker has over 400 websites and the numbers are growing daily.

For the majority of Canadians, gambling is a form of entertainment that has no negative impact. However, between 3 to 5% of Canadians develop gambling-related problems. Given that the CAF tends to reflect Canadian society, and that the availability of gambling has increased, there is concern that the problem may also affect our personnel. Therefore, CAF Gambling Policies outline how this issue is addressed.


Have you ever felt tired from playing video games late into the night or felt irritated or anxious when not gaming? Have you deceived family members or co-workers about the amount of time you spend playing video games?  Have you used gaming as a means to escape bad moods? Finally, have you ever unsuccessfully attempted to limit your game playing? If you can relate to any of these situations, you may have an ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is basically the diagnostic ‘bible’ used by mental health professionals and it uses the term internet gaming disorder (IGD) to categorize individuals whose playing causes significant problems in many areas of their life.  Experts have provided a number of signs to watch for including: being preoccupied with gaming, experiencing withdrawal effects such as irritability when not gaming, and an increased need to spend more time playing games.

For most people, video games are a way for individuals to unwind, connect with friends and be entertained. Video games are attractive because they are so diverse, accessible, and legal. There are several different types and genres (e.g., shooter, casual game, role-playing games, action games, real time strategy, sports, etc.), which can be played on different platforms (e.g., home computer, handheld console, or even mobile phones and tablets).

For those that are interested in gaming and want to keep it in check, here are a few simple tips to follow:

  • Outline priorities ahead of time (e.g., work or other responsibilities before gaming).
  • Pay attention to how much time you spent gaming
  • Plan designated times for gaming.
  • Turn off your computer and mobile phones at certain times each night.
  • Limit the number of hours you play video games and your exposure to them.
  • Engage in offline activities such as sports and social activities with friends and family.

If you are unsure if your gaming or that of a friend or family member is becoming a problem, here are some signs to watch for:

  • decreased interest in other activities,
  • visibly agitated or anxious when not gaming,
  • distorted perception of time,
  • sleep difficulties and/or restlessness,
  • headaches,
  • poor eating habits,
  • decreased performance, and/or neglecting duties,
  • replacing social time with video games.

Modules in Alcohol, Other Drugs, Gambling and Gaming Awareness will increase one’s knowledge and understanding of gaming and gambling issues. For more information, contact your Base/Wing Health Promotion Office.

Related Resources


Tobacco Use

Research shows that there is no safe exposure to any type of tobacco and almost all use results in addiction. An addiction free lifestyle is one that does not include tobacco use, including the use of smoke free tobacco products such as chewing tobacco. The use of e-cigarettes is not well researched at this time either.  Health Canada does not endorse their use and have not regulated this product and consumers use this product at their own risk.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada. Tobacco presents an additional safety concern to CAF personnel as its use in combat zones can place soldiers and their units at risk and it has been shown to decrease military readiness. It has been found to impair athletic performance, to increase physical injuries during training and to result in illness and increased basic military training (BMT) failures. While tobacco rates are declining in the CAF according to the Health and Lifestyle Information Survey (HLIS) 2008/09; 23% of CAF members continue to use tobacco with 18% being daily and 5% being occasional users.

For CAF members wanting to quit tobacco support is available through the Butt Out Tobacco Cessation initiatives. For more information, contact your Base/Wing Health Promotion Office.

Related Resources