Retrospections of a Relapsing Drug Researcher

17 Oct 2022
Emeritus Professor Wayne Hall responded to an invitation by The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs to reflect on his 30-plus years as a researcher in the alcohol and other drugs field in the paper "Retrospections of a relapsing drug researcher". The article is free to view on UQ eSpace

Article Abstract:

This paper was written in response to an invitation to reflect on lessons learned about doing research during 30-plus years as a researcher in the alcohol and other drug field. It proved a daunting task and several caveats are in order. Historians eschew attempts to draw “lessons from history”; drawing “lessons” from a single life is an even more doubtful enterprise. We each live in a unique historical period that makes our experiences of uncertain relevance to the future at the best of times, let alone in the midst of the massive economic and social dislocation produced by a once in a century pandemic.
The attempt to extract lessons from one’s life is also limited by a retrospective imposition of rationality and meaning on events that owe more to happenstance than the plans of mice and men (Bolinska & Martin, 2020). It is all too easy, given our fallible human memories, and the ubiquitous human tendency to overlook the role of chance in our lives, to overestimate our own contribution, and to underestimate the contributions others, to whatever successes we may have enjoyed (Frank & DeGruyter, 2016). It is easy to take credit for successes and blame others (or ‘circumstances’) for our failures. It is also difficult to know how our research came to be done, let alone to assess how it did (or did not) influence practice and policy, and how much (or how little) responsibility one can (and should) take for these outcomes. All these caveats must be kept in mind for what follows.