Regulating addictions: A pilot study exploring the role of the law in the identification and management of addictions

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Dr Kate Seear, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Co-investigator:

Professor Suzanne Fraser, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Contact Person:

Dr Kate Seear, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Project

This pilot study explores the role of the law in the identification and management of addictions. Although the role of the criminal law in the regulation of drugs and addiction is well-known, addiction and drug use figure in a range of other legal realms, and these areas are sometimes overlooked. Legal realms are often constituted in fundamentally distinct ways, with different legal standards and proofs, legislative frameworks, available remedies and personnel. The aim of the study is to identify how addiction is conceptualized by key stakeholders across different legal fields and to isolate similarities and differences in understanding and approaches. These issues will be explored, in the pilot phase, through two areas of law (criminal and family) and through a qualitative analysis of three data-sets: in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, an analysis of legal instruments (including case law) and observation of Court proceedings. The pilot study also seeks to isolate areas where further research may be needed, along with opportunities to improve the role that legal systems can have in AOD and addiction management that is consistent with the most recent critical thinking on AOD and social studies of addiction concepts. It is envisaged that the findings from this pilot study will inform a larger national study of other legal realms (including, for example, the civil and administrative law) in the future.

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