Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NDSAG Conference May 2015, Central London

Our 39th Conference took a slightly different format, two day seminars in Central London, with .

Over sixty people attended at least part of the conference, with forty people staying for both, and enjoying our evening social events in nearby restaurants.

Thursday 21st May: “Brains first and then Hard Work.” (The House At Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne. 1928).
The first day started with the concept of ‘brain science’ and its relationship to alcohol.
Marc Lewis launched the conference with a mind-expanding perspective on why all that evidence of brain activity could be seen as part of the ongoing development of the brain. Dora Duka looked at how patterns of brain imagery could be used to identify those at risk of relapse. Anne Lingford-Hughes explained how similar techniques might aid with development of pharmaceutical aids to recovery.

This was followed with two critical explorations of ‘recovery issues’ for drinkers.
Tim Leighton examined the evidence and ideologies behind the recovery movement and those who have adopted it within political or moral frames. Alistair Sinclair challenged us to think about those same perspectives from the "problem drinker's" perspective.

Keith Humphreys and Niamh Fitzgerald both gave insights into the influences that govern alcohol policy - both within and without political motivations.

Friday 22nd May: Proving policy or improving practice?
This day expanded on the first day’s themes by exploring alcohol policy perspectives and the treatment agenda,
Don Lavoie gave an overview of government policy from Public Health England and the Dept of Health.
Colin Drummond outlined why the changing role of the NHS in alcohol and addiction services has diminished training and clinical input from psychiatrists and nurses.
There followed an account by Pip Mason of lessons she learned from alcohol interventions for helping gambling addicts. And lessons she learned about gambling addictions.
Then with further perspectives from the field, Anthony Moss presented "The unhelpful effects of avoidance strategies in addictive behaviours" and how avoidance can increase risk of relapse.

Robin Davidson's look at how people who claim to use evidence might not use the whole picture.
As he put it "He used evidence like a drunk used a lamp post - for support not illumination".
The Blue Light Project has given Mike Ward and his team some insights into what might help "hard to engage", "frequent" service users.
To conclude, Jim Orford re-visited some themes from Excessive Appetites and described issues of power and powerlessness in addiction giving a closing rally call for New Directions.

Please feel free to add any comments below, as we seek to build on the useful conversations of last week.