Substance Use—the Gender Gap

ALAViDA – Canada’s leading virtual evidence-based substance use treatment provider will host an expert panel on the impacts of female substance use on the workplace.

The webinar, Substance Use May Widen the Gender Gap in the Workplace, takes place on June 25 at 11:00 am (EDT) and will feature leading experts in health, mental health and benefits. The discussion will include the unique impacts of substance use on the female body, and explore the challenges and strategies to enable accessibility to treatment and advance retention of a diminishing resource: female employees.

Whether working from home while home-schooling or as front-line workers, women bore the brunt of the pandemic-related stress and reported their heavy drinking episodes increased by 41 per cent.

“Our biggest concern is that women don’t know they face a much greater risk from drinking than men and because they are so ashamed of their substance use, they don’t seek help until it has progressed,” says panelist Dr. Terri-Lynn MacKay, clinical psychologist, clinician and researcher in the addiction field for 20 years, advisor with ALAViDA, and former director of operations for Wellness Together Canada, the federal mental health response to COVID-19. “Employers can’t help solve a problem they don’t know about. We want to educate employers about the risks women face and offer guidance on how to deal with the issue with compassion and evidence-based treatment.”

Joining her will be Dr. Charlotte Ross, whose landmark research on nurses’ substance use is reshaping Canadian workplace policy and Sandra Jackson, benefits consultant with Coughlin & Associates, who helps companies design benefits that address employees’ emerging needs. The webinar comes at a critical time for Canadian employers, brokers, third party administrators and organizations alike. According to a recent Rand Corporation study – one in four female workers now considers quitting or working part-time because of pandemic-related stressors, threatening to roll back hard-won gains in gender parity.

Employers who understand what propels the surge in female drinking can play an influential role in helping women adopt a healthier approach to substance use through workplace wellness benefits. Alcohol is a causal factor in over 60 health conditions, including heart disease and cancer and costs employers almost seven billion a year in productivity costs alone.

The live webinar happens on June 25 and registration is free. In addition to the expert panel, registrants are invited to download the ALAViDA whitepaper on the connection between legally available substances and lost productivity costs, the added impacts for women, and the opportunities to revert the trend on declining women’s participation in the workforce.

About ALAViDA:

ALAViDA is Canada’s first virtual care provider focused on the science of substance use management. It is a one-stop-shop approach for any level of substance use disorder – alcohol and drugs – mild, moderate and severe. ALAViDA connects patients with behavioural coaches, therapists and physicians who work as a team to deliver personalized care right to their smartphones. ALAViDA is an employee benefit with varying plans and personalized therapeutic programs, which has proven to minimize time out of the workplace. Traditional rehab often costs $30,000 or more a month. ALAViDA’s program is a mere fraction of that. More than 79 per cent of those signed on reported increased control and 86 per cent reduced substance use. 55 per cent of ALAViDA clients are women. To learn more visit

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