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"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

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dc.contributor.author Pauly, Bernadette
dc.contributor.author Mamdani, Zahra
dc.contributor.author Mesley, Lacey
dc.contributor.author McKenzie, Sophie
dc.contributor.author Cameron, Fred
dc.contributor.author Edwards, Denice
dc.contributor.author Howell, Amy
dc.contributor.author Knott, Michael
dc.contributor.author Scott, Tracy
dc.contributor.author Seguin, Ryan
dc.contributor.author Greer, Alissa M.
dc.contributor.author Buxton, Jane A.
dc.date.accessioned 2021-03-01T23:39:58Z
dc.date.available 2021-03-01T23:39:58Z
dc.date.copyright 2021 en_US
dc.date.issued 2021
dc.identifier.citation Pauly, B., Mamdani, Z., Mesley, L., McKenzie, S., Cameron, F., Edwards, D., … Buxton, J. A. (2021). “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. International Journal of Drug Policy, 88, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103015. en_US
dc.identifier.uri https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2020.103015
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1828/12737
dc.description.abstract Background: 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. Methods: This project used a community-based qualitative research design. The research was based at two organizations in BC. Eight experiential worker-led focus groups were conducted (n = 31) where participants spoke about their roles, positive aspects of their jobs, challenges they face, and support needs in harm reduction work. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using interpretative description to uncover the meaning derived from experiential work. Results: Three themes emerged from focus group data that describe the meanings which serve as motivators for experiential workers to continue working in overdose response environments: (1) A sense of purpose from helping others; (2) Being an inspiration for others, and; (3) A sense of belonging. Conclusion: Despite the frequent hardships and loss that accompany overdose response work, experiential workers identified important aspects that give their work meaning. These aspects of their work may help to protect workers from the emotional harms associated with stressful work as well as the stigma of substance use. Recognizing the importance of experiential work and its role in the lives of PWUD can help inform and strengthen organizational supports. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher International Journal of Drug Policy en_US
dc.subject Experiential workers en_US
dc.subject Peers en_US
dc.subject Ovderdose en_US
dc.subject Harm reduction en_US
dc.subject Motivation en_US
dc.subject Meaning en_US
dc.subject Work en_US
dc.title "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 en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.description.scholarlevel Faculty en_US
dc.description.reviewstatus Reviewed en_US


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