Biennial Conference

The ADHS organizes a biennial international conference.  Past events have been held in Utrecht, Guelph, Glasgow, Buffalo, London and Bowling Green, Ohio.

The next biennial Conference will be held in Shanghai, June 2019. For full details please clink on the link below.​

Shanghai University
12-15 June 2019

The 2019 Alcohol and Drugs in History Society conference takes its cue from recent shifts in attitudes towards, and understandings of, intoxicants and psychoactive substances to explore the drivers of change throughout history in ideas about, and actions on, such materials.

Over the last two decades or so physiological models of drug and alcohol use have claimed to provide definitive accounts of the actions of these substances on human bodies, and how they function to literally change our minds. In much the same period ideas about certain substances, from alcohol to cannabis, have begun to fundamentally shift and with this has come political change as many consumers, scientists, doctors and policy-makers change their minds, even as others refuse to do so. The conference stops to ask ‘haven’t we seen this all before’?

After all, experts offering definitive accounts of such substances, vacillating bureaucrats and politicians, unyielding moralists and fickle consumers are all among the figures familiar to historians from other periods and a range of places. The conference brings together those working in the field to examine the latest research into why ideas, attitudes and approaches towards intoxication and psychoactive substances have changed in historical contexts, and why they have not. It will also establish how far these historical understandings can provide a clearer sense of just what lies behind practices, perceptions and policies today.

Where and When:
For the first time the ADHS will host its conference in Asia, at Shanghai University in China, one hundred and ten years after the Opium Commission in the city that did so much to shape future control regimes. The event will also mark the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles which saw the establishment of the first permanent international mechanisms for monitoring and making policy on psychoactive and intoxicating substances at the new League of Nations. The David F. Musto Center for Drugs and National Security Studies at Shanghai University, in partnership with the ADHS and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde, looks forward to welcoming all those conducting research on any aspects of the consumption or control of alcohol or drugs in the past, anywhere in the world.

The event will take place between 12 and 15 June 2019.



Past ADHS events

ADHS 2017 Conference: Drinking and Drug Policies in History: Contextualizing Causes and Consequences Utrecht University, The Netherlands in 23-25 June 2017.

ADHS session at the Society for the Study of Addiction conference in York, England, 10-11th of November 2016.  The programme is available here.

Conference in Dwight, Illinois on the Keeley Cure, Addiction Treatment and temperance, 14-17 July 2016

ADHS session at the Ohio Academy of History, Kent State University – Stark Campus, 1-2 April 2016.

ADHS 2015 Conference:  Borders, Boundaries & Contexts:  Defining Spaces in the History of Alcohol & Drugs. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green OH, USA, June 18-21, 2015.

Borders, Boundaries and Contexts sought to break down barriers in the historical study of drugs and alcohol, encouraging transnational approaches and methodologies that transcend the singular focus on alcohol or drugs.  The program included individual papers and complete panels exploring how:

  1. spaces, boundaries and borders – physical, legal, chronological, psychological, or ideological – have influenced the history of alcohol and drugs;
  2. contexts, spatial or otherwise, have shaped the production, consumption, imagination, or regulation of alcohol and drugs;
  3. particular “spaces” have defined eras, episodes, or issues in the history of alcohol and drugs.

ADHS at the AHA NYC Jan 2-5 2015

Pub, Street and Medicine Cabinet: 6th International Conference of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, Hyatt Hotel, Buffalo 24-26th June 2011

ADHS at the AHA Chicago 2012