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David Herzberg

Professor of History
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences


Opioid epidemic; history of prescription drugs, street drugs and other psychoactive substances; drug policy and drug wars; drugs and popular culture; addiction; drugs and social inequalities of race and gender 

Head shot of David Herzberg.

David Herzberg studies the history of psychoactive medicines in America. He is also an expert on the history of illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and the history of legal psychoactives such as alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea.

Herzberg can speak to the media about the role that street drugs and pharmaceuticals — ranging from quaaludes to opioids — have played in shaping the country’s culture and society. He can also discuss the history of U.S. policy on prescription and other drugs, as well as the effectiveness of current laws designed to protect the public from addiction and other drug-related harms.

In addition to more than a dozen articles in scholarly and medical journals as well as popular media, Herzberg is author of three books:

  • A history of addictive pharmaceuticals called “White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Addiction in America” 
  • A book on race and the opioid crisis called “Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Opioids in America” (with co-authors Helena Hansen and Jules Netherland)
  • And “Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac,” which explores the impact of bestselling psychiatric medicines like Valium and Prozac on American culture and society.


David Herzberg, PhD
Professor of History
University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences