Lives of Substance

Lives of Substance ( is an innovative website developed by NDRI researchers. Based on an ARC-funded project, Lives of Substance is Australia’s first dedicated website presenting carefully-researched personal stories of alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit.

The website’s aim is to generate and present much-needed new insights into the range of experiences that make up life for people who identify as having an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit. How do people manage this aspect of their lives? 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, Lives of Substance 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 60 Australians 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 wellbeing.
  • Seeking help or initiating change.

These themes are presented using video re-enactments, original audio recordings and written extracts from the interviews.

The site was launched in Melbourne on Friday the 7 October 2016, with the help of Kate Holden, author of drug use memoir, In My Skin, and harm reduction pioneer, Jenny Kelsall. Speaking at the launch, Holden noted the potential impact the website would have on people who use drugs, healthcare professionals and the broader community.

“This is a website that I believe has the power to even save lives… We have much to learn from people who are part of our community. People who use drugs are not ‘them’ but ‘us’.”

Planned and designed with the help of a large national advisory panel, Lives of Substance 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.

Access the Lives of Substance website here.