Research visit: Sweden and Belgium

May saw SSAC’s Professor Suzanne Fraser take part in two important European meetings on drug use and addiction. The first, held in Stockholm on May 11 and 12, was run by the SONAD network, the Swedish Alcohol and Drug Research Network within the Social Sciences. Organised on the theme of addiction and (bio-)medicalisation, and focusing on emerging concepts of addiction, their implications and translation into policy, the event attracted an impressive program of speakers including Nancy Campbell, Johan Edman, Scott Vrecko, Robert West, Alexandra Bogren and Jessica Storbörk. Presenting on the second day, Suzanne’s talk covered her recent coauthored book, Habits: Remaking Addiction (Palgrave, 2014).

Nobel 4

The second meeting took Suzanne to Ghent, Belgium, to present on her Future Fellowship research. The event, the 9th International conference of the Society for the Study of Drug Policy, ran over three days (20-22 May), bringing together researchers from all over the world to discuss local, national and international drug policies. Suzanne’s presentation reported on an analysis of Australian and Canadian policymaker and service provider interviews. It argued that common among these interviewees was a desire to approach drug use problems in ways that set aside addiction labels, tackling instead broader issues, but that many found it difficult to dispense with the strategic benefits of addiction labels.

Suzanne’s European visit also incorporated a data-collection arm for her Fellowship project, allowing the expansion of her Australian and Canadian analysis to a further, third, international site. Hosted by SoRAD at Stockholm University, Suzanne collaborated with Josefin Månsson to gather qualitative interviews with Swedish alcohol and other drug policy makers, service providers and advocates. Findings from this arm, and for the project as a whole, will be published over the next year.