ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are “negative, stressful, traumatizing events that occur before the age of 18 and confer health risks across the lifespan” (Alberta Family Wellness, 2020; retrieved from Examples of ACEs include physical or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse and household dysfunction. The more ACEs experienced, the greater the chance of poor outcomes later in life, including increased risk of substance use and mental health conditions, such as depression.

Assessment (see also Screening)

In-depth, ongoing process to inform the therapeutic approach. The practitioner collaborates with the individual and in consultation with them establishes the presence or absence of a challenge, identifies strengths and barriers to engagement, and areas of resilience, and determines whether there is a need for crisis intervention or specialist practitioner support, intervention or treatment.

Concurrent Substance Use and Mental Health Conditions

A combination or co-occurrence of a substance use condition and a mental health condition Examples of concurrent substance use and mental health conditions are:

  • Harmful use of alcohol and an anxiety disorder
  • Cannabis dependence and schizophrenia
  • Heroin dependence and borderline personality disorder

Service approaches guided by the best available research and practice-based knowledge including traditional knowledge for culturally appropriate services. Evidence-informed service approaches allow for innovation while incorporating lessons learned from existing research literature and being responsive to cultural backgrounds, community values and individual preferences. Evidence-based practices are practices validated by some form of documented scientific evidence.

Family (also see Social Support)

Persons or groups who constitute family both in the traditional sense and in a broader sense that includes any configuration of significant others in the past, present or future of the individual who is seeking well being, who can either support or influence the individual’s well being goals. These significant others can include spouses, partners, children, parents, siblings, friends, Elders or other people active in the individual’s social support system.


Awareness, information or understanding about facts, rules, principles, guidelines, concepts, theories and processes needed to perform a task successfully.

Mental Health

A continuum of psychological and emotional well-being along which an individual moves periodically without having a mental illness. The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

Mental Illness

Psychiatric disorder or mental-health impairment, diagnosed by a specialist practitioner, that requires treatment, often including medication. Refer to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition, DSM-5).


People may include individuals, families, friends, groups, communities and organizations.

People Affected by Substance Use

Individuals, families, friends, groups, communities or organizations seeking assistance and support to reduce the harms of substance use and achieve well-being as they define it.