The University of Latvia, the Faculty of Social Sciences

The host organiser of the 30th Annual ESSD Conference is The University of Latvia Faculty of Social Sciences. 

Support for the organisation of the conference is provided by:

Asoc. prof. Dr. Baiba Bela, the University of Latvia

PhD candidate Kristiana Bebre, the University of Latvia

Agnese Zīle-Veisberga, the Ministry of the Interior of Latvia

For any inquiry please contact the host organisers by email:

European Society for Social Drug Research

The ESSD was founded in 1990 as an association of European social scientists working on drug issues. Its principal aim is to promote social science approaches (especially qualitative research) to drug research, with special reference to the situation in Europe. The society holds annual conferences and publishes an annual book with chapters by ESSD members (although in 2017, instead of a book, there will be a special issue of the journal Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, with papers by ESSD members). 

Before the ESSD was established, research on drug issues in most European countries had long been dominated by the medical and therapeutic professions. Social science and qualitative research was hardly represented in the study of the aetiology and epidemiology of drug use, nor in research on social response and social control. The establishment of ESSD was a response to a keenly felt need for a closer co-operation within the social science community. 

Such co-operation had to be international. In most European countries, the number of social scientists working in the field of drugs was (and, in some countries, still is) too small to form a national scholarly community. The closest colleague working on the same topic may be in another country. Moreover, although all countries share the drug phenomenon, there is often a lack of awareness of the commonalties and differences between them in terms of the characteristics of drug use or the types of policy responses. By viewing similarities and dissimilarities in a cross-national perspective, the existing variations in the drug phenomenon and their sociocultural determinants can be better understood. 

In 1988, given the desire to establish a network of social scientists working on drug issues, extensive efforts were made to locate drug researchers in European countries and to bring them together to exchange research findings and explore possibilities for future co-operation. The efforts were greeted with great enthusiasm, and the first annual conference was held in Cologne in Germany in 1990. It was organised by Karl-Heinz Reuband, who without doubt can be called the founding father of the ESSD. He was also chosen by the participants at the first conference as the chair of the organisation. At the 1996 conference, Karl-Heinz Reuband resigned as chair and proposed that Dirk J. Korf replace him. The conference participants then elected Prof. Korf.