Judith Aldridge 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. Over the last five years 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 a special issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy on cryptomarkets with Monica Barratt (October 2016). In connection to this work, 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. 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. An extended theoretical/conceptual response to normalisation critics was published 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 research planned for continued monitoring of this ‘vanguard’ generation of drug users as they reach the age of 40. The thesis has been described, even by its critics, as ‘virtual orthodoxy among many academics and professionals working in the drugs field’, 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 over the globe focused on both indoor venues and outdoor festivals. She also established published guidelines for obtaining informed consent with intoxicated research participants in 'in situ' drug research.
She teaches in the areas of drugs, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and statistics.
She was appointed George Soros Visiting Chair at the Central European University in Budapest in 2017.