Lives of Substance: Experiences of Addiction

Personal stories of addiction, dependence or habit


This project is the first of its kind in Australia and around the world. Funded by the Australian Research Council (2014-17), it involved collecting and analysing the personal accounts of people who describe themselves as having an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit. These accounts (anonymised) will be presented in textual, audio and re-enacted video form on a publicly accessible website. Entitled Lives of Substance, this website will be launched late 2016, and introduced by Kate Holden, author of Australian drug use memoir, In My Skin.

The aim of the study and the website is to generate and present much-needed new insights into the range of experiences that make up life for people who consider themselves to have an addiction, dependence or drug habit. How do people manage this aspect of their lives? How do they cope with the stigma associated with addiction? What kind of help do they seek, where necessary? What do ideas of well-being or recovery mean to them? What resources are important to them? The resulting website will be available for training, information and public awareness purposes.

Funding body:

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP140100996, 2014 – 2017)


Professor Suzanne Fraser
NDRI, Curtin University

Professor Renata Kokanovic
Social & Global Studies Centre, RMIT University (formerly School of Social Sciences, Monash University)

Professor David Moore
NDRI, Curtin University

Professor Carla Treloar
Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales

Dr Adrian Dunlop
Hunter New England Area Health Service

Research staff:

Dr Kiran Pienaar
NDRI, Curtin University

Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne
School of Social Sciences, Monash University

Advisory Panel:

Ms Nicky Bath
Formerly Chief Executive Officer, NSW Users and AIDS Association

Ms Colleen Blums
President, Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia

Mr Danny Jeffcote
Program Manager AOD Response West, cohealth

Ms Debbie Kaplan
Manager, Clinical Policy, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Centre for Drug and Alcohol, NSW Ministry of Health

Ms Anna Keato
Senior Policy Officer, Prevention Policy and Research, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

Ms Jenny Kelsall
Executive Officer, Harm Reduction Victoria

Ms Edita Kennedy
Project Worker, Association of Participating Service Users

Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch
Executive Officer, Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association and Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Wollongong

Mr Brad Pearce
Formerly Program Manager, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association

Ms Julie Rae
Head of Information and Research, Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Professor Ann Roche
Director, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University

Mr Robert Stirling
Deputy CEO, Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies