Kaitlin Cunningham, Staff Writer
Professor Teresa Winstead, Ph.D., will be on sabbatical at the end of this semester to pursue research projects. A sabbatical grants professors time off so they can conduct research projects that coincide with their academic discipline. This allows them time to step away from the demands of instruction in order to engage in research they can bring back to the classroom.
Winstead’s research consists of two related projects, in collaboration with the Olympia Bupe Clinic, a sub-unit of Capital Recovery Center. The Olympia Bupe Clinic is designed primarily to provide support for heroin addicts, through the use of buprenorphine treatment. According to the clinic, “Buprenorphine (also called Suboxone) is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. It promptly stops withdrawal symptoms and reduces opioid craving. It is long-acting, has a very low overdose risk, and minimal euphoric effect, and helps support recovery.”
During her sabbatical, Winstead will be working with the clinic’s staff and patients to conduct research that describes how patients experience buprenorphine treatment, and specifically the impact of the treatment on patients.
In Winstead’s words, this research is meant to “contribute a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of people who are undergoing buprenorphine treatment and by doing so help to dismantle misconceptions, confront discrimination, and build understanding.”
The initial gathering of stories and personal accounts is scheduled to occur over the course of six months, and culminate in an event that allows participants to share their stories with stakeholders involved in opioid response in the South Sound region.
In addition, Winstead was asked to lead a qualitative research study for a PEW Charitable Trusts grant that the Olympia Bupe Clinic received this year. The grant funds a larger study led by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. The PEW research project aims to understand the multi-faceted impact of medication-assisted treatment on the lives of opioid use disorder patients’ lives.
The final component of her sabbatical is a faculty affiliate position with the University of New Mexico’s Office for Community Health in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. As the year progresses, Winstead will visit Albuquerque, N.M. on several occasions to collaborate with faculty involved in similar research and make several public presentations.
Unfortunately, the looming issue of cancellations and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic could interfere with the current schedule, but Winstead believes the start dates for her projects will likely be postponed temporarily as restrictions on social contacts continue.