Publish date: Sep 2015

On the 11th and 12th June 2015 an exciting new conference, sponsored by the SSA, was held at London Southbank University, which explored novel and emerging research methods in addiction.

The Conference was the brainchild of Dr Rebecca Monk, of Edge Hill University, Dr Daniel Frings from London South Bank University and Professor Derek Heim of Edge Hill University, who saw a unique opportunity to bring together like-minded academics to discuss a topic which, to date, has received minimal attention at conference level.

The inspiration for the conference is the relatively recent expansion of technologies which are providing researchers with the tools to examine substance use in new and exciting ways. Research which was once confined to sparse laboratories can now be conducted in the real-world (using Smartphone technology, for example) or in laboratories which mimic real-life (e.g. a bar laboratory). Not only is such research accessible to wider audiences, it also addresses some of the weaknesses associated with previous research. The purpose of the event was to bring together like-minded researchers and clinicians in the field of substance use. In doing so, the hope was to increase awareness of this growing area, share ideas, and forge new avenues for research.

Speaking about the event and his own work, Professor Daniel Frings explains:

 "More and more novel methodologies are becoming increasingly practical for researchers in social science to use. It is important that as a research community with an interest in addiction, we take on the challenge of using such methods both rigorously and in ways shed new light on the questions we pose. We were really lucky to be able to bring together so many researchers on the cutting edge of their fields to exchange ideas and techniques."

The event brought together 25 academics from across the UK and the US, from a diverse range of addiction areas, all whom were passionate about the dissemination and discussion of novel research methods in the addictions. The conference was held over two days and consisted of presentations covering a broad variety of topics as well as enthusiastic round table discussions about the future of addictions research.

Day one began with presentations on research conducted by Dr Daniel Frings in the ‘Bar Lab’ (view presentation in full HERE and a detailed commentary about the use of bar laboratories in research HERE) at Southbank University and research by Dr Rebecca Monk on the consumption of alcohol and associated beliefs using smartphone technology. 

The afternoon saw presentations on the use of technologies such as eye-tracking for studying attentional processes around alcohol.

Day two started with Dr Andreas Kimegard talking about his research on using the internet to study the distribution of illicit drugs and Professor Bill Crano talking about the use of mass media and social marketing in substance-abuse prevention. The afternoon focused on new smartphone apps which have been developed to monitor and support alcohol harm reduction.

The event was a huge success, generating a wealth of new discussion and paving the way for future developments in emerging methods in the addictions.

For a full list of recorded presentations please click HERE

The opinions expressed in this commentary reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official positions of the Society for the Study of Addiction.