Experiences of addiction, treatment and recovery: An online resource – project completed

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

The aim of the study and the website was 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 is currently being used for training, information and public awareness purposes.

The project investigator team comprised:

  • Professor Suzanne Fraser (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic (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 Local Health District)

Research staff

  • Dr Kiran Pienaar (NDRI, Curtin University)
  • Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne (School of Social Sciences, Monash University)


Treloar, C., Pienaar, K., Dilkes-Frayne, E. and Fraser, S. (2019). Lives of Substance: A mixed-method evaluation of a public information website on addiction experiencesDrugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. 66(2), pp. 140-147. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687637.2017.1397602

Fraser, S., Pienaar, K., Dilkes-Frayne, E., Moore, D., Kokanovic, R., Treloar, C. and Dunlop, A. (2017). Addiction stigma and the biopolitics of liberal modernity: A qualitative analysis. International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, pp. 192-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.02.005 [RJ1285]

Dilkes-Frayne, E., Fraser, S., Pienaar, K. and Kokanovic, R. (2017). Iterating ‘addiction’: Residential relocation and the spatio-temporal production of alcohol and other drug consumption patterns. International Journal of Drug Policy. [RJ1346]

Pienaar, K. & Dilkes-Frayne, E. (2017). Telling different stories, making new realities: The ontological politics of ‘addiction’ biographies. International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, pp. 145-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.05.011

Moore, D., Pienaar, K., Dilkes-Frayne, E. and Fraser, S. (2017). Challenging the addiction/health binary with assemblage thinking: An analysis of consumer accounts. International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, pp. 155-163. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.01.013 [RJ1284]

Pienaar, K., Moore, D., Fraser, S., Kokanovic, R., Treloar, C. and Dilkes-Frayne, E. (2016). Diffracting addicting binaries: An analysis of personal accounts of alcohol and other drug ‘addiction’. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. pp. 1-19. DOI: 10.1177/1363459316674062 [RJ1167]

Pienaar, K., Fraser, S., Kokanovic, R., Moore, D., Treloar, C. and Dunlop, A. (2015). New narratives, new selves: Complicating addiction in online alcohol and other drug resourcesAddiction Research & Theory, 23, (6), pp. 499-509.

The project also benefitted from the expertise of an 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 Population Health, 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)