HST310 Drugs and Alcohol: Historical Perspectives (8)

Drugs and alcohol have been looked upon in vastly different ways over time, and according to the cultural context in which they are being considered. Even the term 'illicit drugs' is a relatively modern one. Yet, current debates are most often ahistorical- they proceed from the assumption that drug and alcohol use, public policy and law do not have a past. This subject explores how drugs and alcohol have been considered at key moments in history.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2019.

Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • Understand key moments in this history and appreciate their significance
  • Be able to analyse the cultural and social meanings attached to drugs and alcohol over time
  • Have developed a knowledge of, and ability to critique theoretical frameworks utilised to facilitate this analysis
  • Have gained a deeper understanding of contemporary debates in the area by having an historical perspective on drugs and alcohol.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Prohibition in 1920s America
  • the 'sly-grog' era in Australia, clubs and sly grog joints
  • analysis of the social, cultural and political effects of both prohibition and regulation
  • drug and 'pub' subcultures throughout history
  • media representations of drugs and alcohol in the 20th century
  • the history of heroin in South East Asia and the West.
  • the origins of the 'war on drugs'


For further information about courses and subjects outlined in the CSU handbook please contact:

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The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2019. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.