• Project dates: 2014
  • Grants and funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

The first of its kind in Australia and around the world, this project involved collecting and analysing the personal accounts of 60 people who describe themselves as having an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit. These accounts (anonymised) are presented in textual, audio and re-enacted video form on a publicly accessible online resource entitled Lives of Substance, introduced by Kate Holden, author of Australian drug use memoir, In My Skin. The project runs from 2014 until 2017.

The aim of the study and the online resource 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 online resource is available for training, information and public awareness purposes.

Key People

Lead researcher

Professor Renata Kokanovic

Professor Renata Kokanovic

Professor of Sociology of Health and Illness, Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow

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External Investigators

Research Team

Reference Group

  • Ms Nicky Bath (NSW Users and AIDS Association)
  • Ms Colleen Blums (Drug and Alcohol Nurses Australasia)
  • Mr Danny Jeffcote (cohealth)
  • Ms Debbie Kaplan (NSW Ministry of Health)
  • Ms Anna Keato (Victorian Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Ms Jenny Kelsall (Harm Reduction Victoria)
  • Ms Edita Kennedy (Association of Participating Service Users)
  • Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch (University of Wollongong)
  • Mr Brad Pearce (Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association)
  • Ms Julie Rae (Alcohol and Drug Foundation)
  • Professor Ann Roche (Flinders University)
  • Mr Robert Stirling (Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies)

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Through translational interdisciplinary research, the Health, Society & Medicine research program focuses on addressing key questions in relation to experiences of health, illness, biomedical practice, and informal care.

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