This article questions conceptualisations and attributions that record the emergence of Australia’s first national drug campaign as a necessary and inevitable governmental response to an escalating social problem around drug abuse. I argue that the proposal for, and subsequent establishment of, the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) in 1984-85 was contingent upon historically specific discourses and events in the lead up to the 1984 federal election that were not primarily or solely concerned with drug use or ‘abuse’ (as suggested by the campaign’s title), but with perceptions of crime and governmental corruption, and the social and political anxiety these were generating. As such the NCADA was more an expression of political rather than health concerns.
Journal of Australian Studies Vol. 32, Issue 3, p. 309-321