Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Information for specific populations – Help With Drinking

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Please call 8-1-1 for 24/7 general health information and advice. Indigenous people across Canada can also call the toll-free Hope for Wellness Helpline at 1-855-242-3310.

Information for specific populations

This part of the website has resources for different groups of people who might be dealing with substance use issues. These groups include 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, Indigenous people, young people and older adults. The resources mentioned here are designed to meet the specific needs of people who belong to these groups, offering support, advice and helpful information to help them through their substance use challenges.


Drinking any alcohol while pregnant is not safe. It’s important to know that even a little bit can harm the baby growing inside you. The alcohol you drink is able to enter the bloodstream of the developing baby and impact its growth, as well as its brain and other organs. This can lead to the baby or child having fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), which is a range of disabilities related to physical, mental and behavioural health that can last a lifetime.

If you’re pregnant and having trouble with drinking, remember that there are people who can help and support you. There are ways to cut down or stop drinking, and it’s never too late to reach out. Reducing your drinking will help support your health and the baby’s health.


Stopping your drinking suddenly can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to discuss your plans and goals with a health care provider first, so they can help you stop drinking safely. If you’re interested in cutting back slowly, your health care provider can support that too. You can also use these ideas for cutting back and slowing down your drinking (click on the harm reduction tab).

Healthier Pregnancy

You, your partner and everyone in your support circle can play a role in helping you have a healthier pregnancy. Check out these tips for:


Want to know how long you should wait after drinking before it’s safe to breastfeed or chestfeed your baby? Check out our Alcohol and Milk Calculator!

Pregnancy Resources

Want to learn more about alcohol during pregnancy and read tips for supporting yourself and loved ones?  Check out the pregnancy resources page.


If you are under the age of 18 in Canada and require treatment for alcohol-related issues, you may be worried about keeping this information private from your family. The rules around privacy and consent vary from province to province. For example, in Quebec you can make your own decisions about treatment at 14 years old, while in New Brunswick you have to be at least 16 years old. In some cases, your doctor may need to decide if you can understand the treatment and whether it is the best option for you. It’s a good idea to talk to a health care provider who can explain the rules and help you with the process.

For more information on child and youth mental health issues, and services for youth and their families, check out these resources:


People who are 2SLGBTQ+ may turn to alcohol as a way to cope with the unique challenges they face, such as stigma, discrimination and social pressures. Alcohol can provide temporary relief or help to numb difficult emotions. If you’re struggling with alcohol and you identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, know that you’re not alone. If you decide to seek treatment, your treatment plan should fit your situation and needs.

You may find it helpful to look for support groups for 2SLGBTQ+ people. Having a group of people with similar life experiences to talk with can be a great way to build a community that can support you on your healing journey. Some examples include qmunity in Vancouver, BC, and these community resources for 2SLGBTQ+ youth and families in Ontario. Each province and territory in Canada should also have similar resources.


In Canada, Indigenous people have a unique relationship with alcohol because of their history and culture. Alcohol was introduced by settlers and deeply affected Indigenous communities.


There are programs that use Indigenous ways of knowing and traditions to support people who are struggling with alcohol and identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. Traditional practices, such as talking circles and storytelling, promote healing and help people reconnect with their culture.

Paddling Together

When [my daughter] is focused on her health and focusing on the culture… then we're paddling smoothly forward. Because you can't paddle a canoe unless you are all working together.

Mother of person in recovery

If you identify as an Indigenous person and you struggle with alcohol, you may want to reach out to an Elder or healer in your own community to support you in your recovery and wellness. Cultural activities may also be available and help you on your journey. Some examples of these activities include:

  • Smudging
  • Storytelling
  • Teachings
  • Fasting
  • Carving
  • Beadwork
  • Land-based activities
  • Pow-wows
  • Traditional foods and medicines
  • Language, talking circles, prayer
  • Drumming and/or singing
  • Community feasts
  • Sweat lodges

Sun Dance

Friendship Centres are located across Canada and offer community and cultural practices to Indigenous people. The Thunderbird Partnership Foundation out of Ontario created a step-by-step wellness activity guide with simple activities to help you experience greater wellness by thinking about and participating in Indigenous culture.

If you are interested in integrating cultural treatment into your wellness journey, click here for a list of substance use treatment centres for Indigenous people in Canada.

Indigenous Services Canada

The path of healing to the lodge I attended was based on compassion. My life has changed tremendously beyond what words could ever describe. I am still healing and growing and I would never change this cultural way of life that I follow. It has saved my life, for which I am thankful.

Juanita, person with lived experience of alcohol use disorder