Research archive


When you think back on your childhood, do your memories include an experience that made you feel especially wonderful?

Perhaps it was a time when you felt a bubbling sense of excitement or happiness, or a moment when you felt a deep connection to nature or to another person. Maybe it was an unforgettable dream or an especially strong sense of accomplishment or delight. People often remember moments like these—which are known to social scientists as "childhood peak experiences"—throughout their lives. They have been documented in cultures and countries around the world, and research indicates that up to 80 per cent of us have them.

But does this kind of experience influence what course our lives take?

Dr. Daniel Scott, director of the University of Victoria's School of Child and Youth Care, is curious to find out. His recent research project into childhood peak experiences may have an impact on how young people are counselled in clinical, school and vocational settings. Read more.

Dr. Marie Hoskins receives SSHRC grant: Exposing the roots of crystal meth use in teen girls

Why do teenagers begin using crystal methamphetamine even when they are aware of the destructive consequences?

Dr. Marie Hoskins of SCYC will be asking that question as she undertakes a three-year study of teenaged girls who are using, or have used, the street drug.

In April, Hoskins won a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant that will enable her and a team of graduate students to conduct interviews exploring the decision-making process among adolescent girls when they start taking crystal meth.

“We’ll be exploring how they weigh the negative effects and still go ahead and use the drug,” says Hoskins. Many young women see the drug as an easy way to lose weight, a disturbing trend Hoskins noted during earlier research among girls with life-threatening eating disorders.

The project will also look at how popular culture and the media influence drug use. The study will get underway this summer.

At the end of three years, Hoskins hopes to have some insights into why adolescent girls take the drug that may shed light on approaches to prevention and treatment.

“Right now, the first step is to make contact with community groups that are already doing great work fighting this problem,” says Hoskins.

“Some people call crystal meth use among youth an epidemic,” she adds. “I’d say we’re certainly at a critical turning point.”

CYC addictions expert receives new funding

When it comes to substance abuse, CYC’s Dr. Gordon Barnes is interested in looking at the big picture: he has studied the root causes and long-term development of addictions for over 30 years.

Now, he and eight other academics from universities in B.C., Toronto and California have teamed up to win a $1.4 million, five-year grant for a unique study on multiple substance abuse and its adverse outcomes.

The study is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and directed by UVic Psychology professor Dr. Tim Stockwell through the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC). It is innovative in its goal to look at how people use more than one drug at a time, an approach that mirrors the real-life behaviour of most users. By contrast, most previous research has tended to focus on use of one substance to the exclusion of others.

For Barnes, the study involves expanding on ongoing research, including building on long-term surveys of youths and their families. Dr. Barnes: he began the Victoria Youth Survey in 2001 and the Vancouver Family Survey in 1998. The new CIHR funding will allow him and his graduate students to undertake another wave of interviews with the subjects in the Victoria survey who were teens when the study began four years ago.

The surveys are shedding light on the behaviour patterns of people who use multiple substances, as well as how those people make the transition from using one substance to another.

“What’s satisfying about this new project is it’s building on research programs we’ve already invested in – we can be productive with the studies very quickly,” says Barnes, adding longitudinal studies such as these allow researchers to draw stronger conclusions.

Barnes and his fellow researchers hope conclusions from this new cross-disciplinary collaboration will eventually inform public policy. In the meantime, he is excited to be working with such a large group of fellow addictions researchers. He adds, “This project will also provide a lot of training opportunity for SCYC graduate students over the next five years.”

“Through CARBC, which has researchers across the province, and through UVic’s Centre for Youth and Society, the groundwork has been laid for a strong focus on addictions research at UVic.”