Peer support workers play an essential role in supporting people with substance use related challenges. They offer judgement-free care, and personal connection for people experiencing substance use challenges and who may feel isolated and vulnerable.

Peer support workers help reduce the risk of overdose by managing harm reduction services – including supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites – peer support counselling groups, and education and outreach programs. And while their efforts are huge, the impact of peer support workers is even bigger.  — What is a Peer Support Worker? stopoverdose.gov.bc.ca

They have in-depth, first-hand knowledge of harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services and they can help connect people to a range of supports. Peer support workers also know exactly how substance use and the overdose crisis can affect someone’s life — sometimes referred to as “lived experience.”

Andy Speck is a peer support worker with an overdose prevention site – an OPS – in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. An OPS provides on-site monitoring for people at risk of overdose and allows for rapid response if an overdose occurs. OPS services are also a low-barrier point of introduction to health and/or social services for people with substance use issues. The Overdose Prevention Site in Campbell River is managed by Vancouver Island Mental Health Society.

Andy Speck spoke with People First Radio about his peer support work.  Listen and/or download the conversation below.

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Image: Andy Speck, peer support worker at the Campbell River overdose prevention site. [People First Media]