Ash Whitney and Wired In Websites

This blog post continues the story of my ‘change in career’ early in the new millennium, from neuroscientist working in my research laboratory in a university, to addiction recovery advocate working in the community in Swansea and beyond.

When I first developed Wired In, a primary aim of our grassroots initiative was to provide information and tools that help people better understand and use the options they have to overcome the problems caused by their own, or a loved one’s, substance use. I also wanted to help ensure that practitioners working in the addiction field, be they specialists or generalists, had access to high quality information about addiction to drugs and alcohol and how it could be overcome.

I wanted to develop a strong Wired In presence on the internet. My aim was realised once I met web designer Ash Whitney in 2000. Ash, who lives in Cilfrew, near Neath in South Wales, built the first Wired In website. Daily Dose was a news and information portal that focused on drug and alcohol problems.

The website was initially sponsored by the Welsh Development Agency. I hired Jim Young, a Swansea University technician, to trawl the internet daily and link to key content on specialist and non-specialist (including popular press) websites.

Late in 2000, I was awarded a Personal Chair (Professorship) in Psychology by my university. It was a tradition at the university that anyone awarded a Personal Chair give an Inaugural Lecture about their research to members of the university and general public. The Vice Chancellor then hosted a dinner for family and friends of the new professor.

I was due to give my Inaugural Lecture in December, but I had to cancel to attend an event that was far more important. My former colleague and mentor in Sweden, Professor Arvid Carlsson, had been awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his early research establishing dopamine as a key neurotransmitter and for first showing that l-Dopa would be an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease. I was to attend two celebratory events in Goteborg and my Inaugural Lecture was postponed until 1st February 2001.

During my Inaugural lecture, I explained to my audience that I was changing ‘career’, from neuroscience to working in the community in the addiction field. I also explained that whilst I had been very productive as a neuroscientist, generating over 60 peer-reviewed articles including a number of major highly-cited reviews, my ‘audience’ was very small—other neuroscientists working in the field.

In shifting field, my research and other activities would gain a much larger audience, one which would also be much more varied—people with a substance use problem and their families, practitioners, policy makers, academic researchers and members of the general public—particularly if I used the internet as a core tool for disseminating our content.

I then told them that I was now going to officially launch our first website, the drug and alcohol news portal Daily Dose. The next moment Daily Dose probably became the largest website (at least physically) in the world as I revealed it on the large screen in the main lecture theatre in the university.

Daily Dose later became the leading information portal on drugs and alcohol. It started to attract sponsorship. The portal eventually attracted over 8,000 subscribers, was linked to by many major organisations in the world, and was top of many millions of listings on Google. Ash and I developed another portal, Drugs in Sport, in 2002. Sadly, we had to close this latter website in 2007 due to lack of sponsorship funding, and Daily Dose closed in 2010 for the same reason.

In 2002, Ash and I collaborated to build the main Wired In website,, which contained sections for people suffering from substance use problems (either directly or indirectly), practitioners and the general public. There was also a Wales section, which included some of our Drug and Alcohol Treatment Fund (DATF) evaluation reports. We later replaced this website with, which offered a range of different sections focused on the range of work that Wired In was conducting (e.g. Personal Stories, Research, Education/Training).

I loved working with Ash and we became close friends. We still are today, even though we live on different sides of the world. Ash went on to develop our Recovery Stories website in 2013 and The Carrolup Story website, developed in collaboration with John Stanton, in 2018.

These websites of yesteryear were rather crude compared to today, but web technology has advanced considerably since that time. Some of the pages of those websites are still available today on the Wayback Machine archive. I’ve enjoyed looking back through some of that work.

Recently while working on this website, Ash and I realised that we had launched our first website, Daily Dose, on 1st February twenty years ago. It’s nice to know we are still going strong and our friendship is as close as ever, despite the distance.