School of Population Health

Peter J. Adams - Alcohol and other drugs


Alcohol and other drug issues contribute heavily to the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. My interest is in supporting innovative projects that aim to reduce harm through:

  • Family and neighbourhood responses to addictive relationships
  • Developing the contribution of specialist practitioner and wider health workforce
  • Public health, policy and health promotion activities that empower collective responses to risky consumption
  • Activities that enhance the role of responsible governance.

Recent book


The health and social consequences of addictions contribute significantly to violent crimes and also property crimes, family and relationship discord, illness, injury, and other threats to physical and mental wellbeing.

This book steps outside traditional understandings of addictions and explores the potential of approaching them from a social perspective. Traditional approaches are dominated by what the book refers to as "particle" perspectives where the focus narrows down onto the person experiencing the addiction. This is most commonly represented in medical or bio-psycho-social approaches that start out from a position that reduces personal identity to socially isolated individuals.  

This focus on people as particles is further reflected in individualistic terms such as "disease", "treatment" and "recovery". Despite decades of research and development, particle-derived intervention approaches have yielded marginal gains in reducing levels of addiction. A shift in orientation may open up new possibilities. A social perspective shifts from thinking in terms of particles to looking at the person in terms of relationships.

People become, in many ways, defined by the array of connections that comprise their social world. The reorientation generates interesting new opportunities for explanation and intervention. At one level, a person's relationship to an addictive substance is seen to progressively strengthen at the cost of deteriorating relationships elsewhere. Accordingly, attempts at change involve reversing this process and gradually reintegrating fragmented relationships.

At another level, the dominance of the addictive relationships has consequences for the more intense types of relationship we refer to as intimacy. The challenges of reintegration will involve supporting a process of productive interplay between intimates. At yet another level, relationships occur on a wider horizon involving networks of extended families, neighbourhoods, workplaces and communities.

On this page:

Community and research activities

  • Associate Director of the Centre for Addiction Research (CFAR), a connecting point for researchers involved in tobacco, alcohol, other drug and gambling research in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.
  • Kina Families and Addiction Trust: Founding Chair and later Trust Board member of this trust that aims to increase family and contextual involvements in treating people with addictions through the development of research, teaching and advocacy (2000 onwards). Visit the Kina website
  • Initiated, designed and coordinated the development of postgraduate certificate/diploma/masters programme in alcohol and drug studies for specialist practitioners (23 student places per year, 1998 onwards). Read a description of courses
  • Member of the Board for the Caughey Trust, that manages an endowment for the purposes of supporting alcohol and drug education within medical training.
  • From 1993 onwards initiated and implemented coordinated alcohol and drug teaching throughout the University of Auckland undergraduate medical curriculum. Read more about the Medical programme
  • Assistant Editor for the journal Addiction



  •  [BOOK] Adams, P. J. (2008). Fragmented Intimacy: Addiction in a Social World. New York: Springer [sole authored, original book, 339 pages]. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J. & Warren, H. (2010). Responding to the risks associated with the relapse of recovering staff members within addiction services. Substance Use and Misuse, 45(6), 951-967.  Read more

  •  [REPORT] Adams, P.J. (1997) Could Italian C.A.T. Clubs be adapted for New Zealand Families affected by alcohol and drug dependence? Thirty page Thirty page report circulated widely to alcohol and drug workers, health administrators, policy makers and workers in the field. Based on visits to Italian C.A.T. Clubs in Italy April 1997.  Read more (130.6KB PDF)

Addiction industry studies

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J. (2013) Addiction industry studies: Understanding how proconsumption influences block effective interventions. American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 103, No. 4, pp. e35-e38. Read more

  • [CHAPTER] Adams, P.J. (2012) Should Addiction Researchers Accept Funding Derived from the Profits of Addictive Consumptions? In A. Chapman (Ed.) Genetic Research on Addiction: Ethics, the Law and Public Health, Cambridge: Cambridge University, 122-138.  Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J., Buetow, S., Rossen, F. (2010) Vested interests in addiction research and policy: Poisonous partnerships: health sector buy-in to arrangements with government and addictive consumption industries, Addiction, 105, (4), 585-590. [Accompanied with one invited comment]  Read more

  •  [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J., Raeburn, J. & De Silva, K. (2009) A question of balance: Prioritizing public health responses to harm from gambling. Addiction, 104, 688-691. [Accompanied by invited commentaries and author response]. Read more

  • [BOOK] Adams, P. J. Gambling, Freedom and Democracy. New York: Routledge New York [Sole-authored, original book; Volume 53 of Routledge Series on Studies in Social and Political Thought, 226 pages]. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P. J. (2007). Assessing whether to receive funding support from tobacco, alcohol, gambling and other dangerous consumption industries. Addiction, 102(7), 1027–1033. [Accompanied by 5 invited commentaries and my response]. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P. J. (2007). Trusting researchers to police themselves? Addiction, 102(7), 1039–1040. [Reply to 5 commentaries on paper in same issue]. Read more

AOD services

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J., Prescott, A., Dixon, R. (2012) Strange bedfellows: Meta-narrative traditions in the alcohol and other drug field. Drug & Alcohol Review, 31(4), 591-597. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford J, Adams P & Sheridan J. (2010). Responding to treatment dropout: a review of controlled trials and suggested future directions. Addiction Research and Theory18, (3), 298-315. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford J, Adams P & Sheridan J. (2009). An investigation into whether clients and/or their respective clinicians are aware of pending service exit in an outpatient alcohol and other drug treatment context. Drug and Alcohol Review, 28, (6), 431-635. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford J, Black S, Wheeler A, Sheridan J & Adams P. (2008). Providing post-treatment support in an outpatient alcohol and other drug treatment context: a survey of client opinion. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, 36(5): 322-330. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford J, Adams P & Sheridan J. (2008). Client/clinician discrepancies in perceived problem improvement and the potential influence on dropout response. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction.Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford, J., Adams, P., & Sheridan J. (2008). Therapist attitudes and beliefs relevant to client dropout revisited. Community Mental Health Journal, 44(3),181–186. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Pulford, J., Adams P. & Sheridan J. (2006). Unilateral treatment exit: a failure of retention or a failure of treatment fit? Substance Use & Misuse, 41(1), 1901-1920 [6,000 words] Read more

  • [REPORT] Adams , P.J. (1986). Outcome Evaluation of a Three Week Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programme in South Auckland. Report and paper presented to Auckland Hospital Board staff.

Screening and brief intervention

  • [REPORT] McCormick, R., Adams, P., Powell, A., Paton-Simpson, G., Bunbury, D, McAvoy, B., McLachlan-Smith, C. & Goodyear-Smith, F. (2002) Alcohol and Primary Health Care. New Zealand Findings and Implications from the WHO Collaborative Study. Auckland: University of Auckland.

  • [ARTICLE] McCormick R., G. Paton-Simpson, A. Powell, P. Adams, D. Bunberry (2001) Does follow-up telephone support encourage general practitioners to continue using an alcohol screening and brief intervention programme? New Zealand Family Physician, 28(5), 334-7. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Paton-Simpson, G., McCormick, R., Powell, A., Adams, P., & Bunbury, D. (2000) Problem drinking profiles of patients presenting to General Practioners: analysis of Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores for the Auckland Area. NZ Medical Journal; 113: 74-7. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] McCormick, R, Adams, P., Powell, A., Bunbury, D., Paton-Simpson, G. & McAvoy, B. (1999). Encouraging general practitioners to take up screening and early intervention for problem use of alcohol: a marketing trial.Drug & Alcohol Review, 18: 171-177. Read more

  • [CHAPTER] Adams, P., Powell, A., McCormick, R. & McAvoy, B. (1998) New Zealand. Chapter 12 in World Health Organisation Report on Strand I: General Practitioners’ Current Practices and Perceptions of Preventive Medicine and Early Intervention for Hazardous Alcohol Use. A 16-Country Study. World Health Organisation EUR/LVNG 02 05 02. 1998.

  • [REPORT] Lightfoot, R., Fox, R., McLachlan-Smith, C., Adams , P. & McCormick, R. (1998) Feasibility Study on the Use of the “Drink-Less” Package in General Practice. A report prepared for the Alcohol Advisory Council of NZ.

  • [ARTICLE] Adams , P.J., Powell, A., McCormick, R. & Paton-Simpson, G. (1997). Incentives for general practitioners to provide brief interventions for alcohol problems. NZ Medical Journal, 110, 291-294. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams , P.J., Powell, A. & McAvoy, B.R. (1997). The feasibility of using a computerised health and lifestyle screen in general practice reception areas. NZ Family Physician, 24(3), 43-48. Read more(60.5KB PDF)

  • [ARTICLE] Powell, A., Adams, P.J., & McCormick, P.J. (1996) Preventive medicine in general practice with particular emphasis on early intervention for alcohol.NZ Family Physician, 23, 44-47.

  • [REPORT] Adams , P.J., Powell, A.M. & McAvoy, B.R. (1993). Healthcheck: A feasibility study of a computer assisted health screening programme for use in general practice settings. Report to ALAC, Auckland School of Medicine. Read more(60.5KB PDF)

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P.J. & Stevens, V. (1994). Are emergency department patients more likely to answer alcohol questions in a masked health questionnaire?Alcohol and Alcoholism, 29/2, 193-197. Read more

AOD workforce development

  • [CHAPTER] Adams , P.J. (2003). The Wizard of Oz and the new alcohol and drug professional. In A. Roche & J. McDonald (eds.) Catching Clouds: Exploring Diversity in Workforce Development in the Alcohol and Other Drug Field: 2002 Workforce Development Symposium Proceedings, p193-200. Adelaide: National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction. Read more(961.3KB PDF)

  • [REPORT] Cape G. Ivory S. J. Robinson G. Sellman D. Adams P. (2001) Evaluation of Alcohol and Drug Education and Training in New Zealand. A report prepared for the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand, 44pp, 2001.

  • [REPORT] Adams , P.J. (1994) Report on a National Workshop on Alcohol and Drug Teaching in NZ Medical Schools, December 1993. 35 page report circulated to educators in NZ Medical Schools.

General issues

  • [ARTICLE] Nosa, V, Adams, P. & Hodges, I. (2011) Distinctive alcohol cultural practices amongst Niuean men living in Auckland, New Zealand. Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 6:1-2, 62-72. Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P. J. (2005). Identity talk on dangerous consumptions down-under. Guest editorial to special issue in Addiction Research and Theory. 13(6), 515-521[4000 words] Read more

  • [ARTICLE] Adams, P. J. & Hodges, I. (2005). Understanding dangerous consumptions: Moving forward with a national strategy for research on tobacco, alcohol, other drugs and gambling. Journal of Social Policy in New Zealand. 26(November), 17-42 [7,000 words]. Read more

  • [REPORT] Adams, P. J. & Hodges, I. (2004). Strategy Advisory Document: Towards a National Strategy for the Development of Research on Tobacco, Alcohol, Other Drugs and Gambling. (59pp) Health Research Council of New Zealand, Auckland [500 copies widely circulated in government agencies].  TePou


  • [SPECIAL ISSUE] Adams, P. J., Fitzgerald, J. & Livingstone, C. (2005). Special issue on "Identity talk on dangerous consumptions down-under" in Addiction Research and Theory. [Coordinated submission and review, and with colleagues edited and managed final preparation] Read more: special issue

Past initiatives and involvements

  • Practiced as a clinical psychologist with ten years of experience working with individuals and families with alcohol, drug and other addictive behaviour issues.
  • Formed the Drug and Alcohol Research and Training (DART) team that aimed to foster and support research in this field across the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. It was particularly active in supporting research and development initiatives between the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science and General Practice. In 2003 DART became the Alcohol and Drug Research Collaboration (ADRC) then the Addiction Research Network (ARN) and currently the Centre for Addiction Research (CFAR).
  • Participated in a collaborating centre in the World Health Organization Strand III studies on brief intervention in primary health. Visit WHO Brief Intervention website
  • In collaboration with the Goodfellow Unit in General Practice, initiated and developed the Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs (TADS) brief intervention training project which employed staff over a ten year period to provide training to GPs, practice nurses, Maori and Pacific Nation community workers and youth workers in brief intervention and motivational skills. My role in this project has taken several forms including contract negotiations, supervision of the project manager, chairing the management committee, and working with staff training. The project has moved to private providers outside the University. TADS (Training & Development Services)(PDF)
  • Member of the Board (Deputy Chair) for the Clinical Research and Resource Centre (CRRC) – a Waitemata Health research unit focusing on research into mental health and alcohol and other drugs (2002 to 2005).
  • Co-initiator and ongoing member of steering group of He Ope Awhina Ia Tatou (Tatou) that developed self-help "Clubs" for families with alcohol and drug dependent members throughout communities in Northland (1998 -2001). The network still operates in differing forms through different communities in Northland
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of Higher Ground residential drug rehabilitation programme (1999-2003). 
    Visit Higher Ground website
  • Member of the National Alcohol and Drug Treatment Workforce Advisory Group (1999-2003) – instrumental in planning core competencies of this workforce. ALAC Core Competencies(PDF)
  • Member of the executive for Treatment Research Interest Group (TRIG), a national body set up to promote the development of addiction research (1999 – 2003). Now renamed as the Addiction Treatment Research Interest Group.  Visit ATRIG website
  • Member of planning group for the annual "Cutting Edge" conference, a three-day conference attended by over 300 treatment and research workers in the alcohol and drug field (2000-2002). Visit Cutting Edge conferences
  • Part of team that initially set up Lakeshore Clinic, alcohol and drug service for Auckland’s North Shore (1988-92), a hospital based service later to become part of Auckland’s Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS).  
    See Auckland CADS locations
  • Advisor and consultant to several hospital AOD screening projects in Auckland hospitals including North Shore Hospital, National Women’s Hospital, and Auckland City Hospital.