Why Community Matters: The Role of Connection in Substance Use Health

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2023

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“The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety – it’s connection.” Johann Hari, author and journalist.

Why does having the support of a community affect a person’s journey to wellness? Join us to learn about the latest research on the importance of community for people living with substance use issues.

In this HRI Talk, our panelists explored the critical role of social support and connection in substance use health. We discussed how reducing stigma, and increasing empathy, can have an immensely positive effect on the health and wellness of people living with substance use issues.


  • Explore research on the healing power of community and connection.
  • Learn about the principle of substance use health and its relationship to destigmatization and barrier-free care.
  • Share the story of a Guelph-based filmmaker who, with the support of his community, uses art to explore his journey to wellness.


Dr. Onawa LaBelle
HRI Collaborating Scientist, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Windsor

Shawn Fisk
Systems Stigma Navigator, Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA)

Garrett Smith
Director of Photography, Ward 1 Studios, person with lived experience


Roy Cameron
Previous Executive Director of HRI and Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health Sciences, University of Waterloo

Our research is made possible through the support of our funders, sponsors and donors. Please consider making a donation.

*HRI Talks are open to everyone. We aim to create a welcoming and inclusive space for all attendees to learn and engage. Disruptive or inappropriate activity, including (but not limited to) bullying or hate speech, will result in removal from the webinar.

Lead Sponsor

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Supporting Sponsors

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