Judith Aldridge


Personal profile

Office hours

email for appointment M-F 9-5pm


Teaching Areas: Drug use, markets and policy; data analysis and methods


Judith Aldridge is Head of Criminology from 2020.

Judith is originally from Toronto Canada, but has lived and worked in Manchester since 1989. Judith’s research is focused on drug markets, policy and use. She has pioneered research in the area of ‘virtual drug markets’, culminating in the first publication connected to drug sales on ‘Silk Road’. She co-edited two special issues of the International Journal of Drug Policy on cryptomarkets and on online data and methods (2016 & 2019). She has acted in advisory/expert capacity to agencies including the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA), and the European Commission. In 2020 she was appointed to the UK government Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). Research established earlier in her career had a particular focus on recreational drug use among adolescents and adults, culminating in the development of the ‘normalisation thesis’ as applied to adolescent recreational drug use, first given serious treatment in the 1998 book Illegal Leisure and later extended theoretically in Illegal Leisure Revisited (2011). The research on which the thesis is based employed the longest longitudinal study of its kind, tracking a cohort (starting in 1991) from age 14 with the concept since being tested, contested, honed and extended by drug researchers across the globe. Judith also conducted with Manchester colleagues the first ever ‘in situ’ academic study of dance drug use in clubs (published in the book ‘Dancing on Drugs’), innovating the methodology for research of this kind now taking place across the globe focused on both indoor venues and outdoor festivals, alongside guidelines for obtaining informed consent with intoxicated research participants in 'in situ' drug research. 

Teaching: in the areas of drugs, drug markets, drug policy, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and statistics

PhD supervision: drug markets and drug policy, and applications particularly welcomed in the area of online drug buying and selling

Appointed George Soros Visiting Chair at the Central European University in Budapest in 2017


Research interests

Drug use, markets and policy

Current research projects:

SCANNER: "underStanding the DynamiCs And coNsequences of NPS usE in a Rapidly changing (online) drug market" European Commission funded research Drug Policy

PhD supervision:

She is in principle ready to supervise PhD students studying drug use, markets and policy; and  particularly interested in supervising PhD students carrying out research on internet-facilitated drug markets

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

External positions

George Soros Visiting Chair, Central European University (Budapest College)

Sept 2017Dec 2017

Collaborator, Centre International de Criminologie Comparée (CICC), Universite de Montreal

2016 → …

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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