Lived Experience: Characteristics of Workers in Alcohol and Other Drug Nongovernment Organizations

Janine Chapman, Ann M. Roche, Victoria Kostadinov, Vinita Duraisingam, Sianne Hodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Workers with lived experience of problematic alcohol and other drug (AOD) use are increasingly recognized as integral to the AOD field. However, little is known about the prevalence or characteristics of AOD workers with lived experience across the general AOD workforce, in Australia or internationally. This study aimed to (1) investigate the prevalence of lived experience in AOD workers, (2) build an initial profile of workers with lived experience, (3) identify areas where appropriate support mechanisms may be warranted, and (4) generate recommendations for future work. Method: Nongovernment organization AOD workers from New South Wales, Australia, were invited to participate in a purpose-designed, online survey. Measures included demographic and workforce characteristics, work-related psychosocial factors, and health, quality of life, and AOD use. Descriptive analyses compared responses from workers with and without lived experience on key variables. Results: Two hundred and sixty-eight workers responded. Workers with lived experience comprised 43% of the sample; were more likely to be older; male; identify as lesbian, gay, homosexual, or queer; have lower salary; report discrimination in the workplace; abstain from alcohol; report opioid use; and experience less support outside work. Conclusion: This is the first Australian study to examine the profile of AOD workers with lived experience. Workers with lived experience constituted a substantial proportion of the AOD workforce. Analogous to other countries, comprehensive, appropriately tailored workforce development and support policies are required. Future research should build on these findings by extending to a broader population base, including government workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Drug Problems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • alcohol and other drugs
  • Australia
  • lived experience
  • online survey
  • workforce development


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