Dr Sarah Fox

I am an Early Career Researcher within the Substance Use and Associated Behaviours (SUAB) research group based in the department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University. I was awarded my Doctorate in February 2019 with a thesis that explored the journeys to support among women who experienced co-occurring substance use and domestic abuse victimisation; this was funded by the SSA.

I hold a MSc in Drug and Alcohol Studies from The University of Glasgow, an MSc in Applied Social Research from Trinity College Dublin, and a BA (Hons) in Humanities from Dublin City University. I have professional experience in research and social care including children’s support, homeless services, and women’s services.

My area of expertise is women and substance use, influenced by feminist theory. My research uses narrative and creative methods to explore the lived experiences of substance use among women from diverse backgrounds. In 2018 I founded the SUAB PhD group, which includes national and international PhD students working in the area of substance use.


‘Listen’ – Women’s experiences of substance use, domestic abuse and support


There is a relationship between problematic substance use and domestic abuse. Literature has explored how substances are manifested in the lives of those who are effecting abuse and, are affected by abuse. However, women’s experiences are rarely reflected in this examination. Although 30-40 percent of people in England seeking treatment are women, little is known about their experiences of support when domestic abuse is also present. There is also a gap in UK service provision for women with complex needs, with many women being turned away from domestic abuse refuge because of their substance use. What women do, how they feel, and the support they receive in this situation is a missing conversation in substance use and domestic abuse research.

Using purposive sampling, this PhD research aims to understand women’s experiences of support and help-seeking when affected by co-occurring substance use and domestic abuse. Twelve women were recruited to share their experiences of problematic substance use, domestic abuse, and support seeking. Preliminary findings suggest that many women prioritise their substance use needs over their domestic abuse needs. Further initial results highlight the importance of AA and NA in women’s recovery and the positive impact of social care workers who illustrate compassion and understanding of women’s needs.

Click here for presentation slides.