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USask researchers receive funding to examine impact of peer advocacy in coping with addiction

Click to play video: 'University of Saskatchewan researching addictions'
University of Saskatchewan researching addictions
A team at the University of Saskatchewan are working to research addiction and how peer mentorship can have a positive impact – Apr 10, 2022

A Regina based group at the University of Saskatchewan is receiving funding to research addiction.

The Wellness Wheel group will use the $50,000 to formalize a method of peer advocacy and mentorship for people accessing addictions treatment.

“Utilizing peers, people with lived experience support those with substance use disorder and addiction, and build a network through the province,” said Dr. Stuart Skinner, USask assistant professor.

The funding coming from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation will allow the group to reach their goal of creating peer-mentorships for the community and on-reserve clinics.

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“My goal as a clinician is to rely on partners…who understand what is actually needed,” Skinner said.

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Skinner wants to expand the understanding of substance abuse for those living through trauma, as well as support them.

“It’s going to help our numbers like with HIV come down, we’re going to see people wanting to get help for their addiction, and the peers that are going to be trained, these peers are going to help support them along their journey,” said Danita Wapoosewyan, Wellness Warrior.

Working with Skinner, Wapoosewyan is helping with the research, taking the crew on a bonding exercise to enhance their training.

“Going to site camping for two nights, I believe, or possibly three nights. and canoeing upstream, camping, traveling, again, upstream, camping, and then coming back after we’re done,” Wapoosewyan said.

Saskatchewan has seen record-high overdose rates growing each year, as well as substance use disorders. The team wants to help others who have gone through or are going through addiction.

“That’s the reason why I am a peer mentor because if I didn’t have this community support, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Wapoosewyan said.

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