Invited Speakers - SSA Annual Conference 2021

Society Lecture

We are delighted that Dr John Kelly, Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School will give this year's Society Lecture.

Responding to the use of anabolic androgenic steroids

In the UK and internationally the use of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is on the rise, and is now recognised as a public health issue. NICE guidance on targeted drug prevention and needle/syringe programmes highlights the limitations of knowledge regarding the extent and characteristics of use and a lack of evidence of effective interventions. This symposium will present world-leading research on the deleterious effects of AAS, followed by a summary of findings from a recent NIHR development grant on AAS.

The challenge of benzodiazepine use in the context of escalating drug deaths

Benzodiazepine use is a significant health problem in Scotland, increasingly associated with drug-related mortality. In 2019 benzodiazepines were implicated in 70% of all drug-related deaths. This symposium aims to describe the challenging context of BZD use in Scotland and consider a range of perspectives to develop new and consistent models of care.

Alcohol and suicidal behaviour: clinical features, trends and interventions

One in five suicides are attributable to alcohol use. This symposium addresses current gaps in research and practise concerning alcohol use and its relationship to suicidal behaviour. We address the spectrum of alcohol use disorder in suicidal crisis and its relation to risk in an emergency psychiatric sample, the relationship in the general population, and the development of interventions that target substance use and suicidal behaviour together.

Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) 1 - What influences the development of substance use harms?

Adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco or cannabis is associated with deficits in cognition, and physical and mental health difficulties. Understanding the harms associated with this substance use is important for public health and can indicate targets for preventative interventions. This session will present the latest findings on adolescent substance use drawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) - a world leading birth cohort study providing self-reported questionnaire and interview measures from 13,000 participants.

Addiction training opportunities in Europe: a joint SSA/EUFAS symposium

This symposium will highlight several initiatives in the UK and Europe to address the challenges in attracting clinicians to work in the addictions field with the aim of promoting training and recruitment and improving competencies. The SSA has been an active member of EUFAS since its founding in 2010 ( From a UK perspective, maintaining and strengthening links with European colleagues has become increasingly important since Brexit, and the Covid pandemic has presented many challenges for the addiction field which would benefit from sharing of international best practice. This symposium brings together three outstanding advocates of addiction training and research.

Autism, addictive behaviour and substance use disorders - A priority setting partnership

SABAA is an SSA funded project bringing together experts to explore the links between autism, addictive behaviour and substance use disorders. A recent systematic review suggested that the rates of substance use among autistic people could be as high as 36%. However, in terms of understanding the aetiology underlying SUD or effective ways of managing them in autistic people, very little is known. Furthermore, in terms of increased Internet use, or other potential behavioural addictions (such as Gambling Disorder) little has been done to differentiate the mechanisms and motivations for use in autistic people.