Fourth Contemporary Drug Problems Conference: 'Making alcohol and other drug realities'

23 - 25 August 2017, Helsinki, Finland

Keynote speaker video recordings

Video recordings of the keynote addresses and opening session are available below. The conference committee is very grateful to Aleksi Hupli for making the recordings.

Professor Carol Bacchi (introduced by Professor Suzanne Fraser): 'Deploying a poststructural analytic strategy: Political implications' (with handout)

Dr Adam Winstock & Dr Monica Barratt (introduced by Professor Kim Bloomfield): 'The Global Drug Survey: Participatory methods and the making of safer drug realities'

Dr Cameron Duff (introduced by Professor David Moore): 'Critical drug studies after the ontological turn'

Professor David Moore & Professor Pekka Hakkarainen: 'Conference opening session and information'

Additional information on keynote speakers

Conference report

Dr Kari Lancaster’s report on the conference is available here.

Conference theme: Making alcohol and other drug realities

Common-sense approaches to drugs and their effects usually understand them as self-evident objects that pre-exist the responses developed to address them. However, an emerging body of scholarly work in the social sciences has begun to reverse this understanding, rethinking drugs and their effects as constituted in various forms of practice. Research methods, public policies, treatment protocols and legislative processes all help produce the very phenomena they purport to address. Sometimes called the 'ontological turn', this conceptual shift recognises that processes of studying, treating and otherwise responding to entities such as drugs do not simply 'map', 'reveal' or 'deal with' them; they enact or constitute them as realities.

The insights afforded by the ontological turn offer much to the critical analysis of alcohol and other drug issues. How might these insights reshape epidemiological debates about the methods used to monitor dynamic drug markets, estimate prevalence and map trends and causes, or the ways in which data derived from these methods are interpreted? How might these insights enrich qualitative research on diagnostic instruments, treatment systems, government policies, legal processes, health promotion and popular culture?

Building on CDP's three previous conferences, which have opened up questions of how drugs are problematised; how the complexity of drug use might be attended to and managed; and how drug use might be understood as event, assemblage or phenomenon, we now seek submissions for presentations that critically explore and debate the issues posed when we approach science, policy, treatment, law and other practices as constituting the realities they seek to address.

We welcome research from those working in anthropology, cultural studies, epidemiology, history, public policy, sociology and related disciplines. We also encourage the innovative use of methods, concepts and theoretical tools, including but not limited to those associated with the ontological turn. Possible topics include consideration of the realities constituted in or by:

  • Prohibition and international drug conventions
  • Mandated treatment
  • Drug courts
  • Alcohol and other drug policy
  • Education/health promotion in schools and universities
  • Harm reduction services and measures
  • Neuroscientific approaches to drug effects and addiction
  • Monitoring/surveillance systems
  • Research on drug trends
  • Quantitative measures of alcohol and other drug use
  • Qualitative concepts of subjectivity, agency, affect, identity
  • Post-qualitative research methods
  • Consumer accounts and narratives of drug use, addiction and recovery
  • Medical and other forms of diagnosis/assessment
  • Treatment models and practices
  • Youth and other drug services
  • Social media websites and apps
  • Popular culture enactments of drug use

Other relevant topics welcome.

Conference convenors

Hosted by Contemporary Drug Problems, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Helsinki, Finland), the National Drug Research Institute (Curtin University, Australia), the Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research (Aarhus University, Denmark), the Centre for Population Health (Burnet Institute, Australia), and the Department of Science and Technology Studies (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA), 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.

The conference committee comprises:

Kim Bloomfield (Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University, Denmark)
Nancy Campbell (Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA)
Suzanne Fraser (National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Australia)
Pekka Hakkarainen (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland)
Kati Kataja (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland)
David Moore (National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Australia)
Mark Stoové (Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute, Australia)

Conference format

The conference will run over three days. The program will feature a mix of keynote presentations and concurrent streams. Presentations will run for 20 minutes to be followed by 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

Conference program

The final conference program, including abstracts, is available here.

Conference dates, venue and accommodation

The conference will be held from 23-25 August, 2017 at Paasitorni in Helsinki, Finland. Further information on this historic venue is available here.

Information on accommodation options is available here: Accommodation (pdf). Information on transportation is available here: Transportation (pdf). Information on Helsinki is available here:

Registration fees

Early bird rate* 350 EUR
Full rate 420 EUR
Student rate 210 EUR

Due to the need to finalise venue and catering arrangements, registration for the conference is now closed.

Conference publication

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

Further information

For queries relating to registration, please email Kataja Kati: For all other queries, including those regarding the conference program, please email

Satellite workshop: Making sense of polydrug use: Challenges and responses

A satellite workshop on polydrug use, hosted by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, will be held on Tuesday 22 August, 2017 at Paasitorni. Guest speakers include Aileen O'Gorman (UK) and Franҫois Lamy (USA). Participation in the workshop is free. For further details, please contact Pekka Hakkarainen at or Kati Kataja at or visit