I am a Professor of Criminology, where I undertake research around addiction recovery and desistance from crime. I lead research into work on desistance from offending, recovery capital, and pathways to addiction recovery. I am interested in social identity theory and its implications for recovery, recovery and desistance, addiction treatment effectiveness, prison and community connections, and family experiences of addiction and recovery.
I am also Honorary Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at The Australian National University and Chair of the Prison Research Network of the British Society of Criminology
I trained as a psychologist and criminologist, and have worked in practice, research, and policy in the areas of addiction recovery and rehabilitation of offenders.
I am the Director of Studies for six PhD students studying addiction recovery, gambling, regulation of prisons and drug and alcohol treatment in prisons
My main research interests are based around recovery from AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) problems and about treatment effectiveness. I am increasingly interested in social connections and how they grow and change during and after treatment, and what can be done to support engagement in meaningful activities in the local community. I am also interested in implementation research and the key role of client participation in effective implementation.
Current Research Interests:
- Recovery pathways (Scotland, England, Belgium, Netherlands)
- Recovery capital and its measurement (US, UK, New Zealand)
- Social identity theory and its implications for recovery (Australia, UK)
- Recovery and desistance (UK)
- Addiction treatment effectiveness, particularly in prison settings (UK)
- Prison and community connections (UK, Australia)
- Family experiences of addiction and recovery (US, UK)
Recent Research Projects:
- 2018-2020 ERANID-RECPATH (European Research Area Network on Illicit Drugs – Recovery Pathways): Principal Investigator on a European collaboration of pathways to recovery from addiction in Scotland, England, Belgium and the Netherlands (Sheffield Hallam University)
- 2016-2019 SONAR (Social Networks and Recovery): Principal investigator - Assessing the role of social identity change in addiction recovery (Australian Research Council)
- 2016-2019 Project Director – Evaluation of Double Impact addiction recovery organisation (Double Impact)
- 2010-2020 Project Director – Evaluation of the Operation Stovewood re-traumatisation service (Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust)
- 2018-2021 Chief Investigator – Randomised controlled trial of Ready2Change Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- 2018-2019 Co-investigator – Development of measures for Twenty11 (Red Kite)
I am an Honorary Professor of Regulation and Global Governance at Australian National University, working primarily on regulation capital in a prison setting, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Addiction Studies at Monash University in Melbourne.
I was formerly Head of Research and Workforce Development at Monash University (Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Melbourne), Australia and Head of Research, Eastern Health Australia (Box Hill, Australia) (2011-2014).
I have affiliations and partnerships with Odyssey, New Zealand; the Recovered Users Network (Bosnia) and the Recovery Outcomes Institute (Florida).
Additional interests and activities
Feb 2019 – worked with staff, prisoners, and outside partners on strengths-based activities at HMP Kirkham.
I have written more than 270 peer-reviewed journal publications, book chapters, and technical reports.
- “Pathways to Recovery and Desistance: The Role of the Social Contagion of Hope” (Policy Press)
- “Strength-based Approaches to Crime and Substance Use: From Drugs and Crime to Desistance and Recovery” Edited by David Best, Charlotte Colman (Routledge)
With contributions from international experts in the fields of desistance and addiction recovery, the book focuses on a strengths-based, relational and community-focused approach to long-term change in offending and drug-using populations. This book is highly informative for a wide audience.
- Beckwith, M., Best, D., Savic, M., Haslam, C., Bathish, R., Dingle, G., Mackenzie, J., Staiger, J. and Lubman, D. (2019) Social Identity Mapping in Addiction Recovery (SIM-AR): Extension and application of a visual method. Addiction Research and Theory (early online). DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2018.1544623.
- Best, D. and Colman, C. (2019) Desistance and recovery special issue - introduction and overview. Addiction Research and Theory(early online). DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2018. 1535059.
- Haslam, C., Best, D., Dingle, G., Staiger, G., Savic, M., Bathish, R., Mackenzie, J., Beckwith, M., Kelly, A. and Lubman, D. (2019) Social group membership before treatment for substance dependence predicts early identification and engagement with treatment communities. Addiction Research and Theory(early online). DOI; 10.1080/16066359.20181537393.
- Best, D. and Colman, C. (2018) Lets celebrate recovery. Inclusive Cities working together to support social cohesion, Addiction Research and Theory. DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2018.1520223.
- Best, D., Bliuc, A., Iqbal, M., Upton, K. and Hodgkins, S. (2018) Mapping social identity change in online networks of addiction recovery. Addiction Research and Theory, 26 (3), pp. 163-173.
- Best, D. & Edwards, M. (2018) Editorial: International experience of life in recovery, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 36 (4), pp. 429-436,
- Best, D., Vanderplasschen, W., Van de Mheen, D., De Maeyer, J., Colman, C., Vanden Laenen, F., Irving, J., Andersson, C., Edwards, M., Bellaert, L., Martinelli, T., Graham, S., Hamer, R and Nagelhout, G. (2018) REC-PATH (Recovery Pathways): Overview of a four-country study of pathways to recovery from problematic drug use. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 36 (4), pp. 517-529.
- Bliuc, A-M., Doan, T-N. and Best, D. (2018) Sober social networks: The role of online support groups in recovery from alcohol addiction. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology(early online).
- Butler, M., Savic, M., Best, D., Manning, V., Mills, K. and Lubman, D. (2018) Wellbeing and coping strategies of alcohol and other drug therapeutic community workers: a qualitative study. Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, 39 (3), pp. 118-128.
- Edwards, M., Best, D., Irving, J. and Andersson, C. (2018) Life in Recovery: A families' perspective, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 36 (4), pp. 437-458.
- Edwards, M., Soutar, J. and Best, D. (2018) Co-producing and re-connecting: a pilot study of recovery community engagement, Drugs and Alcohol Today, 18 (1), pp. 39-50.
- Hall, L., Best, D., Ogden-Webb, C., Dixon, J. and Heslop, R. (2018) Building bridges to the community: the Kirkham Family Connectors (KFC) Prison Programme. Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 57 (4), pp. 518-536.
- Hall, K., Simpson, A., O'Donnell, R., Staiger, P., Morton, J., Ryan, D., Nunn, B., Best, D. and Lubman, D. (2018) Emotional dysregulation as a target in the treatment of co-existing substance use and borderline personality disorders, Clinical Psychologist, 22, pp. 112-125.