There have recently been increasing moves to develop coordination in European drug policy and to establish cross-border networks of researchers to study aspects of drug use on a European basis. The epidemiology of drug use has been a major focus of collaboration. This paper argues for the necessity of a historical perspective in understanding the evolution of different national, international and European policies on drugs. It focuses on different national cultures and policies and on key variables such as: the role of professionals; fear and crisis; national and international histories of control. The paper discusses various models of control which arise from history, in particular the tensions between public health, clinical and criminal justice approaches. The paper proposes ways in which useful historical work could be undertaken.

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