A groundbreaking new website was launched in Melbourne on Friday the 7th of October with the help of writer Kate Holden and harm reduction pioneer Jenny Kelsall. Lives of Substance is Australia’s first dedicated website presenting carefully researched personal stories of alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit. Based on an innovative ARC-funded project, the website’s aim is to generate and present much-needed new insights into the range of experiences that make up life for people with drug use experiences of this kind. How do people manage this aspect of their lives? What does drug use mean to them? How do they cope with the stigma associated with addiction? What challenges do they face and how do they cope and thrive? In addressing these questions, Livesofsubstance.org offers new perspectives on people often dismissed or stigmatised as dysfunctional, dangerous or sick.
Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews, the website presents detailed life stories of people who consider themselves to have an addiction, dependence or drug habit. Also presented are key themes found in the interviews:
- How alcohol and other drug use fits into everyday life
- Coping with stigma and discrimination
- Looking after health and well-being
- Seeking help or initiating change
And much more. These themes are presented using video re-enactments, original audio recordings and written extracts from the interviews. Planned and designed with the help of a large national advisory panel, Livesofsubstance.org aims to support people who take drugs, inform the public about their many different life experiences, and act as an information and training resource for professionals.
Given how narrow public debate about drug use and addiction can be, and how often the people affected by it are demonised, it seems to me this website is very worthwhile and long overdue.
I’m all in favour of anything that de-mystifies drug users, allows their stories to be heard, and admits that they are not really ‘them’ but ‘us’.
– Author Kate Holden
Lives of Substance was launched on Friday 7th October, 5pm at the Monash University Law Chambers, Melbourne. The event followed SSAC’s Social and legal studies of addiction concepts symposium.
Program details here