Work life and substance use (February 4-5, 2020)

The next thematic conference of the Kettil Bruun Society, Work life and substance use, will be held in Stavanger, Norway on February 4-5, 2020.

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About the conference

Work life is a promising area for preventing problematic drinking culture and establishing a responsible one. Drinking alcohol with colleges in informal settings can promote networking, as well as strengthen work relationships and cooperation within work life. At the same time, alcohol causes challenges for the individual by encouraging problematic drinking, and challenges for work life by increasing safety risks, loss of productivity, presenteeism and sick leave. Drinking cultures are often established and maintained in the grey zone between work and leisure time. The boundaries between work time and leisure time, as well as norms for drinking behaviour in these grey zones, are no longer clearly defined. Subsequently, the norms for drinking behaviour in these grey zones have become unclear. The transitions between what is acceptable/unacceptable drinking behaviour affect whether the employee stays within the group or moves into a more marginalized position and develops problematic drinking habits. For some, this means going out of work and establishing serious drinking problems and need of treatment and recovery.

Recovery and social participation

Work life is an essential arena for recovery from substance use problem. Within processes of recovery, employment is recognised as an essential milestone and represents an undisputed good for the individual and the society as a whole. It is no longer considered necessary to fully recover in order to participate in society (by being employed or in school). Nevertheless, to enable participation during the recovery process, it is important to develop the assisting services and support systems, based on individuals’ wishes and needs while still in treatment. However, there are many challenges related to pursuing employment for people with histories of alcohol or substance use, long-term sickness absence and marginalized labour market positions. These challenges relate to social structural force, welfare system dynamics, as well as individual factors and there is a need to address all aspects in the quest to provide more knowledge, inform policymakers and provide effective treatment and welfare support.

Identifying barriers for individuals to participate in society, i.e. return to work or complete education, requires new knowledge. In this process, it is important to implement knowledge-based models in a supportive way, which would enable the individual to regain the sense of accomplishment and find new options.

Although the scope of research in the field varies between countries, this is considered as a global societal challenge and field of research. We are, therefore, very happy to invite both national and international researchers to Stavanger, Norway in an effort to share our experiences, exchange knowledge and promote international scientific collaboration.