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Curtin University
National Drug Research Institute

Preventing Harmful Drug Use In Australia

Former PhD student

Robyn Dwyer photo

Dr Robyn Dwyer

Research Fellow



Robyn Dwyer is Research Fellow in the SSAC program at NDRI and Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing (CCDW), Victoria University. Robyn’s research focuses on addiction, social and cultural contexts of drug use, particularly injecting drug use, and public drug marketplaces. Her doctoral research – an ethnography of the everyday lives and economic practices of a set of Vietnamese-Australian heroin user/dealers – was centrally concerned with questions of drug user agency, and more broadly with patterns of social interaction, culturally-diverse social networks and social exchange. Robyn has been involved in qualitative and quantitative alcohol and other drug use research since 1999. She has an academic background spanning public health, anthropology and sociology, and has worked in a variety of settings including universities, research institutes and community/NGOs. Robyn has previously been a Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute and in the Ethnography Program at NDRI.

Robyn’s current research program at SSAC focuses on addiction screening and diagnostic tools. She is examining the relationships between these instruments, their specific items and core concepts in ‘addictions theory’ and how they are situated in current practice. Robyn is also working with Suzanne Fraser on the comparative addiction concepts project taking place in Australia, Canada and Sweden.

Robyn is also colllaborating on several research projects including:

* Evaluation of take-home naloxone distribution initiatives in Victoria. Funded by NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use and Victoria University (Chief Investigators: Prof Paul Dietze, Dr Robyn Dwyer, A/Prof Craig Fry)

* Understanding and responding to public alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and impacts in Melbourne's Western Region. Funded by Victoria University. (Chief Investigators: A/Prof Craig Fry, A/Prof Deborah Kerr, Prof Michele Grossman, Dr Robyn Dwyer)

* Investigating methamphetamine use and harms in the Western Region of Melbourne. Funded by Victoria University. (Chief Investigators: A/Prof Craig Fry, A/Prof Deborah Kerr, Dr Robyn Dwyer)

Robyn is an invited reviewer and contributor to several international journals, and is a member of the editorial board for Contemporary Drug Problems. She is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) and Vice Chair of the Board of Management for Harm Reduction Victoria.

Robyn has expertise in ethnographic and other qualitative methods and welcomes supervision opportunities in social studies of addiction, social and cultural contexts of alcohol and other drug use and injecting drug use. Her theoretical interests include science and technology studies, agency and subjectivity and anthropological theories of exchange and value.


  • PhD Public health/Anthropology, National Drug Research Institute, Health Sciences, Curtin University
  • BA (Hons) Psychology, Macquarie University

Research Interests

  • Social studies of addiction, social and cultural contexts of alcohol and other drug use, injecting drug use, public drug marketplaces, public drug use, hepatitis C


  • Vice Chairperson, Harm Reduction Victoria


  • Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology


  • Editorial Board, Contemporary Drug Problems

Current projects

  • Understanding the impediments to uptake and diffusion of take-home naloxone - DP170101669 Details
  • Analysing and comparing concepts of addiction for improved social and health outcomes in Australia Details


Matthews, S., Dwyer, R. and Snoek, A. Stigma and self-stigma in addiction. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. [In Press] [RJ1096]

Dwyer, R. and Fraser, S. (2016). Addicting via hashtags: How is Twitter making addiction? Contemporary Drug Problems, 43, (1), pp. 79-97. DOI: 10.1177/0091450916637468 [RJ1177] Paper

Dwyer, R. and Fraser, S. (2016). Making addictions in standardised screening and diagnostic tools. Health Sociology Review, 25, (3), pp. 223–239. DOI: 10.1080/14461242.2016.1184581 [RJ1053] Paper

Dwyer, R., Fraser, S. and Dietze, P. (2016). Benefits and barriers to expanding the availability of take-home naloxone in Australia: A qualitative interview study with service providers. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 23, (5), pp. 1-9. DOI: 10.3109/09687637.2016.1150964 [RJ1128] Paper

Lamy, F., Quinn, B., Dwyer, R., Thomson, N., Moore, D. and Dietze, P. (2016). TreatMethHarm: An agent-based simulation of how people who use methamphetamine access treatment. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 19, (2). DOI: 10.18564/jasss.3069 [RJ1099] Paper

Dwyer, R. and Fraser, S. (2015). Addiction screening and diagnostic tools: 'Refuting' and 'unmasking' claims to legitimacy. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26, (12), pp. 1189-1197. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.08.016 [RJ1085] Paper

Higgs, P., Dwyer, R., Cogger, S., Hellard, M. and Maher, L. (2015). Behavioural research to inform understanding of hepatitis C resistance. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 15, (11), pp. 1260-1261. DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00352-7 [RJ1078] Paper

Dwyer, R. and Moore, D. (2013). Enacting multiple methamphetamines: The ontological politics of public discourse and consumer accounts of a drug and its effects. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24, (3), pp. 203-211. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.03.003 [RJ891] Paper

Dwyer, R., Pennay, A., Green, R., Siokou, C., Barratt, M.J., Thomson, N. and Moore, D. (2012). The social contexts and cultural meanings of amphetamine-type stimulant use and their implications for policy and practice. In Allsop, S. and Lee, N. (eds.) Perspectives on Amphetamine-Type Stimulants. I.P. Communications, Melbourne. pp. 56-68. ISBN: 978-0-9808649-9-1 [CH171] Abstract

Dwyer, R. (2011). Engaging with heroin, engaging with life. Popular Anthropology, 2, (3), pp. 44-49. [RJ778]

Dwyer, R. (2011). The social life of smokes: Processes of exchange in a heroin marketplace. In Fraser, S. and Moore, D. (eds.) The drug effect: Health, crime and society. Cambridge University Press, Melbourne. pp. 19-34. [CH170]

Dwyer, R. and Moore, D. (2010). Beyond neoclassical economics: Social process, agency and the maintenance of order in an Australian illicit drug marketplace. International Journal of Drug Policy, 21, (5), pp. 390-398. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2010.03.001 [RJ706] Paper

Dwyer, R. and Moore, D. (2010). Understanding illicit drug markets in Australia: Notes towards a critical reconceptualization. British Journal of Criminology, 50, (1), pp. 82-101. DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azp065 [RJ701] Paper

Higgs, P., Dwyer, R., Duong, D., Thach, M., Power, R. and Maher, L. (2009). Heroin-gel capsules and groin injecting practices among ethnic Vietnamese in Melbourne, Australia. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20, (4), pp. 340-346. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2008.05.001 [RJ688] Paper

Dwyer, R. (2008). Privileging pleasure: Temazepam injection in a heroin marketplace. International Journal of Drug Policy, 19, (5), pp. 367-374. [RJ525] Abstract

Dwyer, R., Fry, C., Carruthers, S., Bolleter, A., Dolan, K., Donald, A., Byrne, J. and Loxley, W. (2002). ABRIDUS: The Australian blood-borne virus risk and injecting drug use study. Monograph No. 3. Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. [M39]

Non-NDRI Publications

Dwyer, R., Power, R., Denham, G. and Dietze, P. (2014). Public injecting and public amenity in an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Journal of Substance Use. pp. 1-8. DOI: 10.3109/14659891.2014.987834 [RJ] Paper

Grossman, M., Bruck, D., Stephenson, P., Dwyer, R. and Roose, J. (2014). Learning to Engage. A Review of Victoria Police Cross-Cultural Training Practices. Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University, Melbourne. [M]

Dietze, P. and Dwyer, R. (2013). Injecting behaviours. The Melbourne Review, (20). [UJ] Paper

Dwyer, R., Fraser, S. and Treloar, C. (2011). Doing things together? Analysis of health education materials to inform hepatitis C prevention among couples. Addiction Research & Theory, 19, (4), pp. 352-361. [RJ] Abstract

Aitken, C., Dwyer, R., Spelman, T. and Power, R. (2009). Is handedness associated with health outcomes for people who inject illicit drugs? Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 16, (5), pp. 471-477. [RJ] Abstract

Dwyer, R., Topp, L., Maher, L., Power, R., Hellard, M., Walsh, N., Jauncey, M., Conroy, A., Lewis, J. and Aitken, C. (2009). Prevalences and correlates of non-viral injecting-related injuries and diseases in a convenience sample of Australian injecting drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 100, (1), pp. 9-16. [RJ] Abstract

Salmon, A., Dwyer, R., Jauncey, M., van Beek, I., Topp, L. and Maher, L. (2009). Injecting-related injury and disease among clients of a supervised injecting centre. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 101, (1), pp. 132-136. [RJ] Abstract

Sweeney, R., Conroy, A., Dwyer, R. and Aitken, C. (2009). The economic burden to the public health system of treating non-viral injecting-related injury and disease in Australia (a cost of illness analysis). Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 33, (4), pp. 352-357. [RJ] Abstract

Aitken, C., Power, R. and Dwyer, R. (2008). Letter to the Editor: Response rate in medical practitioners. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 32, (3), pp. 288-289. [RJ]

Dwyer, R., Horyniak, D., Aitken, C., Higgs, P. and Dietze, P. (2008). People who drink in public space in the Footscray CBD. Burnet Institute, Melbourne. [T]

Laslett, A.L., Dietze, P. and Dwyer, R. (2008). The oral health of street-recruited injecting drug users: prevalence and correlates of problems. Addiction, 103, (11), pp. 1821-1825. DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02339.x [RJ] Paper

Dwyer, R. (2001). Street-based heroin markets and homelessness. Pathways: Causes and consequences. Problematic Drug Use and Homelessness. Parity, 14, (8), pp. 13-14. [UJ]

Fry, C. and Dwyer, R. (2001). For love or money? An exploratory study of why injecting drug users participate in research. Addiction, 96, (9), pp. 1319-1325. [RJ]

Hooke, E., Bennett, L., Dwyer, R., van Beek, I. and Martin, C. (2001). Nurse practitioners: An evaluation of the extended role of nurses at the Kirketon Road Centre in Sydney, Australia. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 18, (3), pp. 20-28. [RJ]

van Beek, I., Dwyer, R. and Malcolm, A. (2001). Cocaine injecting. The sharp end of drug related harm! Harm Reduction Digest 14. Drug and Alcohol Review, 20, (3), pp. 333-342. [RJ]

Dwyer, R. and Rumbold, G. (2000). Victorian Drug Trends 1999: Findings from the Illicit Drugs Reporting System (IDRS). NDARC Technical Report 89. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney. [T]

Dwyer, R. and van Beek, I. (1998). Hepatitis C and cocaine: the ‘real thing’ in Kings Cross. Hepatitis See, 3, pp. 4-5. [UJ]

van Beek, I., Dwyer, R., Dore, G.J., Luo, K. and Kaldor, J.M. (1998). Infection with HIV and hepatitis C virus among injecting drug users in a prevention setting: retrospective cohort study. British Medical Journal, 317, pp. 433-437. [RJ]

Dwyer, R. and van Beek, I. (1997). Hepatitis C virus among Kings Cross injecting drug users. The Hepatitis C Review, 18, pp. 26-27. [UJ]

Dwyer, R., Richardson, D., Ross, M.W., Wodak, A., Miller, M.E. and Gold, J. (1994). HIV risks among women who inject drugs. AIDS Education and Prevention, 6, (5), pp. 389-399. [RJ689]

Wodak, A., Dwyer, R., Ross, M.W., Drury, M., Gold, J. and Miller, M.E. (1992). Life at the epicentre: sexual and drug using behaviour in Sydney, 1989. Second report of the Australian National AIDS and Injecting Drug Use Study. ANAIDUS, Sydney. [T]