“The holiday season offers friends and families moments to gather, celebrate and reconnect, but it can also be a difficult time for Albertans who are struggling with mental health and addiction.

“This year may be especially difficult. Despite the strong recovery of Alberta’s economy, many Albertans are struggling to cover everyday expenses, let alone the extra costs associated with the holidays. While Alberta’s government is taking action to address these concerns, for many, the financial strain is an added stress during an already challenging time of year.

“That’s why it’s important to know what supports are available to you when and if you need them.

“If you’re experiencing addiction or mental health challenges, contact 211 for information on services in your community. 211 is free, confidential and available 24-7. It’s also a way to connect to virtual resources like the Mental Health Help Line and Kids Help Phone, which has professional counsellors available 24-7 to help young Albertans in need.

“If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, you can call the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) at 1-844-383-7688, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. VODP provides same-day access to addiction medicine specialists with no fees and no waitlist – no matter where you live in Alberta.

“I encourage anyone who uses opioids or other drugs to download the Digital Overdose Response System at dorsapp.ca. The DORS app can help contact emergency services if someone overdoses while using alone. You can also pick up a free naloxone kit anonymously from more than 2,000 locations throughout the province.

“During the holidays, or any other day of the year, reach out to your friends and loved ones, reach out to someone who is in recovery or just reach out. You are not alone – help is out there if you need it.”