The second European Conference on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies – Lisbon Addictions 2017 – was held from 24 to 26 October 2017 building on the success of the first Lisbon Addictions, which took place in September 2015. That conference was originally planned as a small, one-off event to support networking across European addiction professionals. But, organisers were taken by surprise by the enthusiasm that the Conference generated. Participants’ evaluation showed that it provided a unique and valuable opportunity for discourse and networking across the different disciplines involved in this challenging and dynamic area. Lisbon Addictions was therefore made a biennial event.
Vision for Lisbon Addictions 2017 was to provide a European focused Conference but with an international perspective. Therefore, more than 1 200 participants from over 71 countries came to Lisbon, including policy actors, researchers, academia, practitioners, health professionals, governmental and non-governmental representatives, patient organisations, health economists and others. The conference spanned all aspects of the addictions field with wide diversity of the submissions made. Participants had the opportunity to select from over 500 oral presentations, view over 200 posters and hear from over 20 keynote speakers representing some of the most eminent scientists and practitioners working in the addiction field today.
The evaluation of the first conference also indicated a demand to go beyond the usual conference communication formats and complement the programme with an integrated training event to explore a selection of “hot” drug and addiction topics in-depth and build capacity among different stakeholders, using novel interactive dynamic learning formats, knowledge and experience exchange, and multi-sector networking environments. The TWIST project (Training WIth STakeholders – Applying EU drug and addiction research) was prepared as a training strand, with the participation of the target audience (early stage professionals) and other stakeholders. Aim was to meet this need through a two-day training programme embedded within the scope and programme of LxAddictions17. Most of the participants from South East Europe, especially from the civil society sector, were supported by TWIST. The topics, contents and delivery formats of the TWIST training programme were conceptualised and designed through a participatory process with selected EU representatives of the stakeholder groups.
The conference was held in the excellent facilities of Lisbon’s Congress Centre which provides the opportunity to hold large major sessions as well as smaller venues for more intensive and participatory discussions.
Sharing at the conference, either at scheduled sessions or in informal setting, helped build future collaborations between professionals both within Europe and beyond.
The next conference is already scheduled for 23 – 25 October 2019, again in Lisbon.