Author Identifiers

Michelle Fullam
ORCID: 0000-0001-5086-2176

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Criminal Justice by Research


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Natalie Gately

Second Advisor

Ms Suzanne Ellis


In the last decade, there has been a marked increase in the awareness of drug use and drug-related crime in Australia. As a result, the demand for drug treatment services has increased and 14 recognised government-funded services are now available in Western Australia (WA). The goal of these services is to reduce drug use through full-time intensive programs that are usually residential. This type of drug treatment has been shown to be effective in reducing drug use and promoting pro-social lives post-treatment. However, little is known of the experiences of participants in this type of treatment in WA. As such, this study examined the lived experiences of individuals engaged in a Christian residential rehabilitation program in WA.

Semi-structured interviews were utilised to examine 14 participants’ perceptions of their behaviours, links between drug use and criminal behaviour, motivations for treatment and life after rehabilitation. A thematic analysis of the data revealed that drug users have extensive insight into their lived experiences, including an awareness of normalised behaviours that catalysed their subsequent drug use and criminal behaviours. Themes that emerged from the findings include: the lived experience of dysfunction; embodying dysfunction and escaping dysfunction. Additionally, the participants demonstrated strong support for treatment provided by residential rehabilitation, commenting that that recovery from extensive drug use is a lengthy process involving more than simple abstinence from drugs. This research provides support for residential treatment of drug users who previously committed crime, supporting assertions that drug use must be treated to address criminality.