The SSA’s Rob Calder gives 7 reasons to go to this year’s SSA conference.

I know, you don’t have time, and you’ve probably had enough of seeing people online. But don’t let those factors prevent you from attending the SSA conference this year. There are many reasons to tune in on the 5th and 6th of November. Here are seven:

1. The headline speakers

As ever, the SSA welcomes the biggest names in addiction to the conference. Miss them at your peril.

Book your place

Places are still available at the SSA’s Annual Conference – being held online this year, on 4–5 November.

Details of all the sessions and speakers are available on our website.

The deadline for booking is 22 October. Book your place here.

The Society Lecture comes from Professor John Kelly from Harvard Medical School who has more accolades than I can list here. But he has consulted to nations, United Nations and US federal agencies. His lecture will cover what has been learned about addiction recovery in the past 50 years and the promise of the resulting new movement of addiction science.

For people working in addictions in the UK, Professor Dame Carol Black will need no introduction. Professor Black also has too many accolades for such a word-limited article. She has been president of the Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of medical Royal Colleges. In 2021 she published a review of drug treatment and recovery.

2. A global audience

I know that many people are fed up with online meetings. But this isn’t an online meeting, it’s a conference, and that’s different. Last year we had the most global panel and audience that we can remember. The fact that it is online means that the presenters come from across the globe as do the delegates. When we get back to in person conferences, you’ll miss this part.

3. It’s online so….

You can attend in your pyjamas. You can eat the loudest of apples during a presentation. You can mute yourself and mumble at people you disagree with. You can cheer on those you agree with. You can point at the screen without anyone noticing. You can make a cup of tea without leaving the lecture. You will never get stuck mid-row unable to escape the wrong lecture. You can text your research group with pithy comments about p-values and slide design. Sure, everything being online has been a bore, but there are some perks that are worth making the most of.

4. The posters

The posters are always an opportunity to remind yourself of the massive range of research going on. That and to meet the Professors and Society Lecturers of the future. This year, poster presentations will be grouped by theme and you will be able to catch each poster presenter giving a 3-minute summary of their research. Being online, you will be able to squint and look baffled without being given an equally baffling small takeaway-menu version of the big poster that’s baffling you.

5. Other presentations

It’s the range that makes these conferences. At the beginning of a conference, I will identify the presentations I want to see, but it’s the ones I didn’t mean to see that usually make the conference so special for me. This year we’re covering addiction training, adolescent substance use, alcohol and suicide, autism, alcohol in Ireland, benzodiazepines, contingency management, COVID-19 and substance use, quitting smoking during COVID-19, steroids, youth in Iceland and more. If there’s nothing there that interests you, then I just don’t know what to do.

6. The food

It’s online. You’re at home or in the office, so you can eat what you want when you want. Any dietary requirements? No problem. Forget the pre-lunch anxiety about what you are about to be offered. Personally, I think I might go for Bánh mì on day 1, possibly frozen pizza straight from the oven on day 2. Maybe some crisps in between. Mmmmm.

7. You do have time

If you go to the conference, you will spend 2 days hearing about the latest and most interesting research in addictions. If you don’t, those 2 days will get filled with other zoom meetings and emails. Zooms and emails instead of a conference. You might think you’ll use it to catch up on ‘things’. But if you go to the conference, you’ll spend it getting ahead.

Of course, we’re all looking forward to in-person conferences when they resume. But until they do, you can reap the benefits of the online conference. You’ll miss them when they’ve gone.

by Rob Calder

The opinions expressed in this post reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official positions of the SSA.

The SSA does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information in external sources or links and accepts no responsibility or liability for any consequences arising from the use of such information.


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