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Curtin University
National Drug Research Institute

Preventing Harmful Drug Use In Australia

Contemporary Drug Problems 2011 Conference
Beyond The Buzzword: Problematising 'Drugs'

October 3 to 5, 2011
Prato, Italy

Hosted by Contemporary Drug Problems, the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, and the Centre for Population Health at the Burnet Institute, this conference will bring together leading international researchers in drug use and addiction studies from a range of research disciplines and methods – both qualitative and quantitative.

Conference theme

The consumption of mood-altering drugs is consistently framed as one kind of problem or another. Across the last century, drug consumption has variously been framed as a 'law and order' problem, a 'health' problem and a 'social' problem. In the process, an array of related phenomena are also framed, including the people who consume drugs, the putative effects of the drugs, the risks associated with their use and the drugs themselves. Indeed, as Derrida has commented, 'drugs' operates largely as a buzzword: a popular catch-all for a diverse collection of substances, actors and effects. What are the implications of problematising 'drugs'? What do particular problematisations allow and disallow, create and silence? What solutions do they entail? This conference invites presenters to reflect on these questions in light of Deleuze's observation that:

[a] solution always has the truth it deserves according to the problem to which it is a response, and the problem always has the solution it deserves in proportion to its own truth or falsity – in other words, in proportion to its sense.

(Deleuze, 1994: 158)

If solutions and their effects are shaped by the ways in which we constitute problems, what might we identify as the contemporary drug problems to which researchers in this rich and challenging field should address themselves? What kinds of sense do we want our understandings of drug consumption, our recommendations and our actions to make?

In addressing these questions, presentations could address the following areas:

  • The relationships between licit and illicit drugs
  • Drugs and crime
  • Gender and drugs
  • Drugs and risk
  • Drugs and bodies
  • The 'user'
  • Treatment: what and who is being treated?
  • Drug 'paraphernalia'
  • Abstinence
  • Drugs research instruments and techniques
  • The popular culture of drugs

Keynote speakers

Robin Room: Alternative terms for problematising alcohol and drugs: Their conceptual and social implications

Helen Keane: Addiction and its Others: Diagnosing problems and non-problems in the DSM

Additional information on keynote speakers

Conference program

The conference program with abstracts is available here.

Conference dates, venue and accommodation

The conference will be held from the 3rd to 5th of October 2011 at Monash University's Conference Centre in Prato, Italy. Further information on this venue is available at Conference accommodation options in Prato are available here: Accommodation.

Registration fees

Full rate AUD $450
Early bird rate* AUD $350
Student rate AUD $275

*Early bird deadline is Friday June 10, 2011.
To register for the conference, please go to

Conference publication

Following the conference, Contemporary Drug Problems will publish a special issue or issues featuring selected papers from the conference. Further information on the journal can be found at

Further information

All queries should be directed to Nicola Thomson, Editorial Assistant, Contemporary Drug Problems, at