UBC Faculty Research and Publications

“It’s an emotional roller coaster… But sometimes it’s fucking awesome” : Meaning and Motivation of Work for Peers in Overdose Response Environments in British Columbia Pauly, Bernadette; Mamdani, Zahra; Mesley, Lacey; McKenzie, Sophie; Cameron, Fred; Edwards, Denice; Howell, Amy; Knott, Michael; Scott, Tracy; Seguin, Ryan; et al.


The province of British Columbia (BC), Canada is amid dual public health emergencies in which the overdose epidemic declared in 2016 has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Experiential workers, commonly known as ‘peers’ (workers with past or present drug use experience) are at the forefront of overdose response initiatives and are essential in creating safe spaces for people who use drugs (PWUD) in harm reduction. Working in overdose response environments can be stressful, with lasting emotional and mental health effects. There is limited knowledge about the personal meaning that experiential workers derive from their work, which serve as motivators for them to take on these often stressful roles.

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