Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NDSAG Conference Belfast 2009

Asking the right questions in the right way:

re-evaluating alcohol research and treatment for the 21st century

Stranmillis College, Belfast

The 33rd Annual New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group Conference
Advance notification: 2009 NDSAG’s Annual International Conference.

Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th April in Belfast.

This year the annual NDSAG conference is held in Northern Ireland for the first time and incorporates a research symposium from the Alcohol Education Research Council.

To celebrate our first event in Northern Ireland we have returned to 2007 conference prices!

Following international studies that found no apparent differences between treatments, NDSAG takes up the issue of Asking the right questions in the right way challenging traditional research. We will examine the relationship between research design and real world change processes. It is time to take a realistic, long term view on treatment effectiveness and consider service users’ views.

As ever, the New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group conference programme is designed for practitioners, managers, researchers, commissioners and anyone else interested in the alcohol field. This year’s conference in Belfast will feature the usual mix of erudition, hard work, robust debate and informality: a proven formula that promotes high quality learning and networking.

Confirmed presenters include:

Jim Orford (Birmingham); Keith Humphreys (California); Lawrence Krikpatrick (Belfast); Diana Patterson (Belfast); Shane Butler (Dublin); David Best (Hamilton); Doug Cameron (Market Bosworth); Alex Copello (Birmingham);Robin Davidson (Belfast); John Booth Davies (Glasgow); Ray Hodgson (Cardiff); Nick Heather (Newcastle); Gillian Tober (Leeds); Duncan Raistrick (Leeds); Tim Leighton (Salisbury); Eileen Kaner (Newcastle); Ron McKechnie (Dumfries); Pip Mason (Birmingham),


a Symposium from the AERC featuring: Annette Fleming (Birmingham), Steve Lydon (Glasgow), & Simon Moore (Cardiff).

You can download PDFs of the conference programme and the booking form.

In the case of any queries please contact:

carol.driver@actiononaddiction.org.uk +44 (0) 141 548 4507

The full conference programme will be available and updated on the NDSAG website:


Saturday, January 24, 2009

NDSAG Conference 2009 (Draft programme - January)

Asking the right questions in the right way:

re-evaluating alcohol research and treatment for the 21st century



Stranmillis College, Belfast

Thursday 23 April 2009


Conference Opening Session: Chair: Robin Davidson

Welcome to Belfast

14.00 NDSAG Chair’s Welcome & Introduction: Alex Copello

14.05 Introduction to the Conference: Robin Davidson

14.15 Opening Presentation Lawrence Kirkpatrick

Lawrence is Professor of theological history at Queens

University, Belfast: making the keynote opening

presentation – placing our conference in the local context

15.30 Tea & Biscuits Break

16.15 New Directions for the New Directions Group: Doug Cameron &

views from the past … Ron McKechnie

Doug & Ron are two of the founding members of NDSAG

17.00 Alcohol interventions: a personal view Nick Heather

Nick is President of NDSAG

17.45 Conference announcements: Alex Copello

18.45 Conference Reception

The first evening reception is a traditional feature of the New Directions annual conference. The event is designed to welcome all delegates, including those who have been regular members of New Directions and particularly those attending for the first time. Complementary pre-dinner drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are available.The emphasis is on meeting informally with as many of the other delegates, including established members, committee members and speakers, early in the conference. New Directions has always sought to promote active participation, because this improves our experience of the conference and helps develop personal, professional networks.

19.30 Dinner

Friday 24 April 2009

Friday Morning Session:


9.00 Asking the right questions in the right way Jim Orford

Keynote conference presentation: Jim develops his

thesis – first published in Addiction 2008

10.00 A complementary perspective: mutual aid Keith Humphreys

The experience of self help movements

11.00 Coffee & Biscuits Break

11.30 Learning from one another Tim Leighton

The effectiveness of group interventions

12.00 UKATT – beyond the outcomes Alex Copello

Qualitative processes in the United Kingdom

Alcohol Treatment Trial

12.30 Evidence based decision making in alcohol treatment Gillian Tober

Implementing proven methodologies and practise

13.00 Lunch

Friday Afternoon Session:

14.00 Asking the right questions Pip Mason

Participative exercise. Facilitated working groups to

develop the keynote presentations and assess their

implications for real world practise

15.30 Tea & Biscuits Break

16.00 Meaningful Outcome Measures Duncan Raistrick

Reflections: responding to the ‘right questions’ challenges.

Theory & treatment delivery and the impact of treatment.


19.00 Dinner

Saturday 25th April 2008

Saturday Morning Session:

Alcohol Education Research Council (AERC) Symposium: Ray Hodgson

Contemporary reports on the Night-time Economy from AERC supported research:

9.00 The AERC & high impact cutting edge research Ray Hodgson

9.15 Cardiff Community Interventions: Measures, Methods, Theories and Outcomes

Dr Simon Moore

9.45 From Lose - Lose to Win - Win:The Birmingham “Route 50” Initiative Annette Fleming

10.15 The Glasgow Community Prevention Trial:Changing a Culture Takes Time. Stevie Lydon

10.45 AERC session Review Ray Hodgson

11.00 Coffee & Biscuits Break

11.30 The Belfast Genetics trial Diana Patterson

Learning from a major international genetics trial

12.00 Title & speaker to be confirmed To be confirmed

12.30 AA – a very Irish organisation Shane Butler

A perspective from the Irish republic

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Saturday Afternoon - Self Directed Learning Opportunities

Conference delegates identify and pursue individual learning objectives in collaboration with colleagues with facilitation and support from the conference organisers as required.

19.00 Dinner

20.30 Evening Entertainment

A Social Event for All Delegates

Sunday 26th April 2008

Sunday Morning Session:

9.30 The addiction to myth John Davies

Déjà vu and tautology all over again

10.00 Applying the drugs agenda to alcohol…… David Best

Heresy – does drugs research have anything to offer

10.30 Naughty but NICE Eileen Kaner

Don’t blame the messenger – developing good guidelines

11.30 Coffee & Biscuits Break

12.00 MATCH vs UKATT Robin Davidson &

Advance peek at a forthcoming comparison study Nick Heather

12.20 Planning the New Directions Conference 2010

Traditional end to a NDSAG conference: a planning session and wish list to inform the organisation of the next conference, which in 2010 will be held in Norfolk.

13.00 Conference Closes

The New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group (NDSAG) has provided a safe environment where alcohol practitioners, researchers & service managers have explored and debated contemporary challenges in the field since the mid 1970s.

Our 2009 conference theme was launched by Jim Orford in 2008. Rather than researching techniques and treatment technologies researchers should examine how treatment interacts with change processes. An inclusive paradigm would consider change over realistic (longer) time scales paying due heed to service users’ experiences and require alcohol treatment research to connect with modern, wider scientific theory.

For 2009 we are also delighted to feature an AERC research symposium.

We welcome new and returning members & delegates to the NDSAG 2009 conference in Belfast and we will do our best to ensure you enjoy yourselves.

New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group: Charity No: 281393

You can download PDFs of the conference programme and booking form.

NDSAG reserves the right to amend the conference programme as opportunities and circumstances permit and require. For conference booking details and further information please contact the 2009 NDSAG Conference Secretary Carol Driver

carol.driver@actiononaddiction.org.uk +44 (0) 141 548 4507

or visit our website: newdirections.org.uk

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Preview of the NDSAG Journal

The New Directions Group in the Study of Alcohol Group publishes a report from its annual conference.
The 'New Directions' Journal contains the pick of the papers from the last conference, and other members' papers.
This is included in the price of membership for each year.

Recent back copies of the New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Journal are obtainable on request.
Price £5 (before 2005) or £10 (2006 onwards).

The D L Davies Prize is awarded annually for the best article published in the Journal.

All submitted articles are automatically considered for the Prize. Submissions are usually by invitation from last year’s conference, but if you are interested in contributing on the theme of this year’s conference, but are unable to attend, please let us know. For any enquiries about the NDSAG Journal please contact Adrian Brown (ade[dot]brown[at]nhs[dot]net)

For a preview of the NDSAG Journal content, check the 25th Anniversary special edition here and samples of the 2007 (pdf) and forthcoming 2008 (pdf) Journals.

You’re Not Listening To Me!
communication, effectiveness & appropriate delivery service users, practitioners & management


Papers from the NDSAG Annual Conference 2008, Salisbury.

The NDSAG conference represents a wide range of thinking on subjects related to alcohol. Speakers bring individual experience and scientific anecdote from a diversity of alcohol agencies - social, health and academic – not forgetting the personal. The NDSAG journal seeks to publish some key presentations that show the range, but also which can be as thought-provoking on paper as they can in attendance.

This preview condenses the essence of NDSAG by introducing the papers with key paragraphs, just to give an illustration of how the themes are explored.

For more information, check our website ndsag.blogspot.com and if you are interested in purchasing copies of our Journal, please contact Adrian Brown, Ade.Brown@nhs.net

Street Encounters (Douglas Cameron, Leicester)

“An advantage of living and working clinically in the same place for a long time, in my case for more than thirty years, is that one bumps into ‘ex-customers’ on the street from time to time. It is surprising how little information one requires to be able to recall even substantial case histories. So the answer to an informal question like “How are you doing?” often provides enough cues for one to engage in a perfectly meaningful but brief follow-up interview.

“At this totally anecdotal level, there seem to be four kinds of responses worth mentioning. These are:

  1. The turning point
  2. Things were different then
  3. I was different then
  4. Things happened later”

Children: Not seen and not heard? (Wendy Robinson, Whitstable)

“Most people will be familiar with the 15th Century English Proverb: “Children should be seen and not heard”, and we probably like to think that we have come a long way since then, welcoming the presence of children in our lives and wanting them to feel cared for and valued in our adult-centric world. This paper is going to explore this a little and see if, in reality, we pay attention to children, listening to and hearing what they have to say. I will suggest that perhaps things might not have changed that much over the years, and that we are actually quite ambivalent when it comes to really seeing and hearing children. I will also offer some thoughts about why this might be, and what happens when we choose to ignore children. Conversely, I will say something about what happens when we listen to children and offer some ideas about how we can become more attentive to children and young people.”

Therapeutic Listening – or “It Ain’t What You do” (Bill Reading, Canterbury)

“Expensive and elaborate studies such as Project Match (l997) and the United Kingdom Alcohol Treatment Trial (UKATT 2004), reveal little significant difference in the effectiveness of competing treatment approaches yet also reveal the powerful impact of the therapeutic alliance in determining the quality of outcome. Estimates as to the effect size of the alliance upon outcome tend to range about l0% to 50% with this effect being almost certainly more pronounced in those clients who manifest with initial low self-efficacy. Even at the lower margins of this range, we are talking of an effect which far exceeds anything one expects to find when comparing one treatment approach or model with another.”

Turning points, values and narrative identities (Anja Koski-Jannes, Tampere)

“Constructing stories is something fundamentally human. It is something that we do naturally day by day, hour by hour without much conscious effort. Stories help us understand our experiences and ourselves and to find meaning for our lives. Meanings do not exist as entities in themselves. We create meanings by seeing events or things in their connection with other things. Stories provide a way to build these connections between events taking place over time.

“Since the main focus of this presentation is on narrative identity and its role in desistance from addictive behaviours, I will use the data from this study to draw attention to two essential elements of this change process. One of these elements concerns turning point experiences and their role in making a personal commitment to change and the second deals with the change of values supporting the new sober identity.”

Making sense of the mess in my head (Wulf Livingston, Gwynedd)

“The model has been developed with reference to a number of contexts. It is something which I sometimes use to aid my teaching and training work with generic staff and in particular social workers and social work students. It is the response of a social worker, with a belief in radical social work theoretical constructs, to a decade plus of working in a field dominated by medical and psychotherapy approaches and increasingly, short term criminal and health outcome focused commissioning processes. Finally, it reflects some of my own understanding as a drinker.”

The Tales People Tell (Ron McKechnie, Dumfries)

“We know from many years of research that the most important ingredient in achieving good outcomes is that the client felt heard. In order for them to feel heard it is essential that we paraphrase their story with their emphasis so that they know we heard what was said and understood it. If there are competing narratives within their story we should draw attention to these gently to establish to which the greatest weight is being given. Further into our relationship with the client we may wish to challenge some aspect of their story. This should be done in a tentative fashion so that any misunderstandings have the opportunity of being cleared up. Having one’s story heard and validated by being taken seriously has an essential role in establishing a therapeutic alliance. This is a form of acceptance.”