March 15, 2012 · Updated 2:43 PM

In a couple of weeks, the Salvation Army will begin a new program aimed at helping those whose lives have been negatively impacted by substance abuse.

For eight weeks, starting April 2, participants will take part in the program that utilizes humour and laughter yoga, which is believed to increase serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals in the brain that tend to increase happiness and enjoyment.

The program also encompasses psycho-educational programming, group therapy, one-on-one counselling, life skills, and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. And once the program is completed, participants will also have access to a follow-up support component.

It’s a forward-thinking and creative idea, because as Salvation Army addictions counsellor Steve Hakes says in the story on page A3, “laughter really is the best medicine.”

We hope the program proves to be successful and that more projects like this will be initiated.

Such programs are needed in our community to help people overcome such a heavy and complex issue such as addiction. While there are also other programs in place to help, its inception greatly adds to that wider network of support.

Few people addicted to drugs and alcohol can stop using without help — strong willpower is not enough. They often require support from community-based programs, such as this new program, in conjunction with structured treatment. And it’s important that all people, regardless of whether they have a substance-abuse problem, be treated with humanity and respect.

Those who would like to be part of the solution should visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website at