Friday 13th May 2022 – 14:00 -16:00
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The Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming (CERG) is organising the 25th Conference of the European Association of Substance Abuse Research (EASAR) in May this year. This annual scientific conference aims to stimulate and strengthen European co-operation in research on the prevention and treatment of addiction behaviour.

This year’s scientific event will have over 60 researchers from more than 15 countries participating, and for the first time, it has been decided to open up part of the conference to the public.

CERG would like to invite you to the second of this two part public lecture series, which will focus on addiction behaviours. Here, we will have researchers share their current study findings in relation to mental health services, genetics, environmental factors and proven-effective pharmacological and psychological treatments in addictive disorders.


Wim van den Brink (Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Netherlands)

Addiction can be seen as a brain disease with a biopsychosocial basis, including specific biological and psychological abnormalities. There are proven-effective pharmacological and psychological treatments (resulting in functional brain changes) but dropout is generally high, effect sizes are small and relapse rates are high. Psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin, ketamine, and MDMA (ecstasy) are promising new medications in the treatment of addictive and other mental disorders. This presentation provides an overview of past and current research on the efficacy and safety of psychedelics in the treatment of addictive disorders, some remaining questions and topics for future research. Findings show that 1-3 psychedelic sessions are a promising new treatment for addictive disorders with rapid response, large effect sizes and long-lasting protection against relapse. Psychedelics might be effective in the treatment of addictive disorder, especially in patients with a dual disorder or a polysubstance use disorder.

Wim van den Brink is a professor of Addiction Psychiatry. In 2014 he received the lifetime scientific achievement award from the Netherlands Association of Psychiatry and in 2015 he was granted the status of honourable member of the Spanish Society for Dual disorders. In 2017 he received the European Addiction Research Award from the European Federation of Addiction Societies (EUFAS) and in 2020 he became Doctor et Professor Honoris Causa at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. His main scientific interests are related to the neurobiology and pharmacological treatment of addictive disorders and related comorbidities, and the reduction of stigma regarding patients with an addiction. He is a (co)author of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications, and he supervised more than 75 PhD students.


Udo Nabitz (Arkin Mental Health Care Services Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

This lecture will discuss the impact of the merger of three Dutch mental health services (addiction, psychiatry and forensic). In this naturalistic experiment, nine criteria of the EFQM Model for total quality management before and after the merger were compared based on the scores from the consensus meeting of the assessor teams. The results show an overall improvement and effectiveness of the merged organisation.

Udo Nabitz studied clinical psychology at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen in Germany and at the University of Amsterdam. He is a clinical psychologist (GZ Psycholoog), obtained his doctorate with a thesis on Quality management in Health Care. He retired in 2019 but still works at Arkin and for the Dutch Psychological Association (NIP) as a senior consultant, researcher and quality advisor. The focus of his work is on quality improvement and result measurement in healthcare. Udo Nabitz has published in various scientific and professional journals.


Gabriele Fischer (Center of Public Health, Medical University, Vienna, Austria)

Unfortunately worldwide, there is an overrepresentation of persons with psychiatric disorders in prison with limited medical care. The somatic and psychiatric burden in people suffering from substance use disorder and its co-morbidities, especially in prisoners is high: Adequate diagnoses and treatment would not only be beneficial for that target population, but also for the public health in reducing crime and societal costs.

This presentation will demonstrate facts on underdiagnosing ADHD & hepatitis C in a group of opioid maintained prisoners – hence almost no specific treatment for ADHD has been provided until discharge with the consecutive increased risk of relapse to substance use and criminal acts due to their increased impulsivity features. Not only psychiatric standards should be met, but also the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) are neglected. Equally, neither hepatitis C treatment has been administered. The lecture will demonstrate how society benefits from a multiprofessional treatment in a unique setting.

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Fischer is a psychiatrist with double affiliation to both the Department of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy and Institute at Public Health at Medical University Vienna. She has served since 2008 as medical director of the Addiction clinic next to her appointment as chairwoman of a national prevention mechanism (NPM) commission in Austria, where she was responsible together with her commission members to monitor human rights.  During her long career she has published > 150 scientific papers with > 400 presentations. For decades she has engaged as a consultant for UN, WHO and other international organizations on psychiatry & human rights. In addition, she serves as member of the scientific board of EMCDDA, Lisbon.


Fernando Fernandez-Aranda (University Hospital Bellvitge-IDIBELL, Barcelona, Spain)

Food addiction and substance use have frequently been reported in patients with eating disorders. This lecture will discuss a study that aimed to assess the prevalence rates of food addiction and/or lifetime problematic alcohol and illicit drug use among patients with specific eating disorders such as: bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other specified feeding and eating disorder. This lecture will present the results of a study that sought to identify clinical, psychopathological, and personality profiles involved in these addictive behavior-based phenotypes. Overall, patients presenting with at least one addictive-like behavior reported a poorer clinical status. Also, patients with food addiction and substance use exhibited a more dysfunctional profile characterized by high impulsivity and low self-directedness.

Fernando Fernandez-Aranda is a distinguished Professor of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Barcelona, specialist in Clinical Psychology. He has been the director of the Eating Disorders (ED) Unit at the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain). He is currently the Scientific Director of the Research Institute IDIBELL, co-Head of Research Group CIBERobn (Excellent Spanish Research Network for Obesity and Nutrition) and co-Head of Group Psychoneurobiology of Eating and Addictive Behaviours (IDIBELL). He is past-president of the Eating Disorders Research Society (EDRS) and Co-Chair of the ED Section of the World Psychiatric Association (2018-2023)


Csaba Barta (Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary)

Similarly to many aspects of normal human behaviour, psychological disorders or psychiatric disease are influenced partly by genetics, and partly by environmental factors. The individual effect of these risk or protective factors is minute; however, their combined effect and their interplay may lead to manifestation of brain disorders or mental disease. Adaptation to environmental changes is often mediated by epigenetic alterations and processes.

Addiction is a good example of the above complex interplay of genetics and environment. Family and twin studies estimate the heritability of different forms of addiction to be around 60%. Most addiction studies in the literature focus on one specific substance (or sometimes an addictive behaviour), however, this talk will present an integrative approach to understand the complex etiology of addictions in general and the possible association of several candidate gene variants and a range of related psychological dimensions with Substance Use Disorders and behavioural addictions.

Csaba Barta, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Biology at Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. He obtained his degree as a Medical Doctor in 1999, and his PhD in molecular genetics in 2002 at Semmelweis University. As a scientist specializing in the field of psychiatric genetics his main research interests are genetic and epigenetic risk factors of substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, ADHD and Tourette disorder. He participates in a number of large international collaborations, eg. TS-Eurotrain: Interdisciplinary training network for Tourette Syndrome, the International Consortium on ADHD and Substance Abuse (ICASA), as well as the Horizon2020 project: Prevention and Remediation of Insulin Multimorbidity in Europe (PRIME).

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