This handbook was created by the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and the Canadian Public Health Association to describe and illustrate several key principles of a public health approach to substance use. The main objectives of this handbook are to increase readers' familiarity with the underlying principles of such an approach, share relevant information, definitions, and frameworks to support learning, and provide practical examples and additional resources.
This handbook can be used independently as a self-guided workbook or in a small group setting with or without facilitation. It serves as a valuable tool for promoting self-reflection, community coordination, and facilitating important cross-agency and system-wide conversations regarding how to broaden and enhance the response to substance use. This handbook is also designed to inspire respectful and destigmatizing conversations with and about people who use substances.
The definition of a public health approach presented in this workbook was developed in 2021. It has continued to evolve based on input from people with lived and living experience of substance use, professionals in health and social services, and relevant literature.