I have just returned from the Australasian Professional Society on Addictive Disorders (APSAD) conference in Brisbane, Australia which focussed on the current research and practice evidence in relation to addictive disorders and their treatment. I presented on the treatment method of The Cabin, Chiang Mai, which was well received and as noted it is rare that private facilities are so open to their methods being researched and investigated, which is refreshing. This is even more important in light of recent funding cuts to science and research in Australia, meaning that research that could be done, may not be simply due to funding issues. The abstract to the paper can he found here (Page 27) with a potential journal article off the back of this currently in development.
There was a great focus on the use of smart phone applications as a method to engage clients suffering from substance misuse. Despite some mixed results that were reported at the conference, the area of technology in therapy is one which is further and further building ground and evidence behind it. The fact that the vast majority of people now own a smart phone and the burden of disease of substance abuse and mental health are growing, it would be remiss to ignore the fact that technology can be used to very good effect to keep people engaged, or to even provide treatment at a one on one level.
Other reports that were particularly interesting were that of David Nutt, providing further evidence on the neuroscience behind addiction. From Nutt’s research there is now a suggestion that Dopamine is not the only neurotransmitter which is implicated in substance use and abuse, but rather that different drugs actually have different effects on different neurotransmitters. This evidence further adds to the neuroscience research and starts to build a body of work that will be aimed at being able to provide specific and tailored treatment to certain substances of abuse (with the talk of vaccinations, even, for drugs like cocaine).
In relation to funding cuts it is also with sadness that the peak body for the alcohol and other drug workforce, ADCA has announced that it will cease operations due to a cut in funding from the Federal government. With such a high burden of disease based on the abuse of substances, especially alcohol, this seems like a step in the wrong direction, especially considering that ADCA has been around for almost 5 decades. As we see the frontiers change in addiction research and science, it is sad to see that the support of the industry has now been pulled out from under it, with no plan to reinstate the same or similar service.