Turning Point research officers awarded APSAD conference scholarships

24 Nov 2021

The Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) held its 40th annual conference earlier this month. This year saw the largest contingent of Turning Point researchers at the event, with many delivering presentations, poster presentations, and chairing sessions.

Congratulations goes to Turning Point research officers Danielle Whelan, Rachel Petukhova and Freya Horn who were each awarded a scholarship to attend the event. Below Danielle, Rachel and Freya reflect on their experiences attending their first APSAD conference.

Danielle Whelan

The APSAD 2021 Conference was an incredible experience with insightful discussion on evidence-based issues and sharing of ideas with diverse perspectives in relation to research, policy, and practice from the AOD sector. The breadth of knowledge was exciting to explore and it was inspiring to observe the innovation and incredible contribution of the presenters and organisations to the field. I have learned so many new things, including the importance of mindfulness in relapse prevention, promising new digital health interventions, addressing stigma around take-home naloxone, and neurocognitive treatment interventions. My learnings will inform the work I do in many practical ways, however, the conference was particularly energising by illustrating the benefits of thinking about issues with great consideration of the diverse range of perspectives in the field, in which the sky's the limit.

Rachel Petukhova

Receiving a scholarship to attend the APSAD 2021 conference in early November was an excellent opportunity for me to build on my existing knowledge of the AOD field. Unfortunately, an in-person conference was not possible this year, but the online platform allowed delegates to navigate sessions effortlessly and access presentation recordings after the event (a bonus previous in-person conferences did not provide). The content delivered during the conference was relevant to and informed my existing role at Turning Point (such as presentations on smoking cessation, outcome monitoring, treatment settings, and cognitive bias modification). In addition to this, there were presentations on other important research areas I was yet to receive substantial exposure to, such as working with Indigenous populations, drug monitoring, and policy. A highlight for me was attending a presentation by Sarah Goldsbury, a neuropsychologist of Ngāti Porou and Te-Aitanga-A-Hauiti descent, who offered an insight into how she conducts culturally appropriate and meaningful neuropsychology assessments with Maori children and their families, guided by an adapted Maori wellbeing model – Tuakiri o te Tangata. As an early career researcher, I really valued the opportunity to attend, and I look forward to next year’s conference in Darwin.

Freya Horn

It was exciting to attend the APSAD Virtual Conference 2021 through APSAD’s scholarship program. I enjoyed seeing how research was presented at a national forum and hearing from leaders in the field. I learnt about diverse topics including the affordances of long-acting injectable buprenorphine, the relationship between childhood trauma and the subjective experience of morphine, the potential for MDMA and ketamine to enhance addiction treatment outcomes, the history of Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, and impacts of work, life, and domestic responsibilities on women’s drinking. I also enjoyed seeing presentations from so many Turning Point colleagues, hearing about their recent research and learning more about some of the projects I am familiar with.