Liverpool Addictions Conference 2012 – Part 2

Following on from Part 1….

The  six afternoon parallel sessions were split into two rooms. As I couldn’t split myself in two I went to the following sessions which were very interesting.

Tobacco Control & Marketing – Linda Bauld

The aims of  Tobacco Control are; to reduce the harm caused, reduce the uptake of smoking,  increase the amount of people stopping and reduce the harmfulness.

Smoking rates have declined in recent years although 21% of adults still smoke.

The 2011 5 year plan includes looking at Tobacco promotion, making it less affordable, better regulation for the sale of Tobacco, more help to stop, secondhand smoke and effective communication.

B&H’s new way of opening a cigarette packet increased their market share to 57.5%!!! This equated to 180 million in 18 months. Just for changing the packet! I pondered putting in a picture but I don’t want to trigger anyone! I was a bit dubious but I’ve just found this comment which suggests that the cooler the packaging the cooler smoking is considered maybe??

A great unique pack. Slight problem in that cigs do occasionally fall out if its dark and you open up upside down, but to be honest, they are cool!!

The next step is to make the packaging less attractive. Much to the horror of the Tobacco companies they will soon be required to only use plain packaging. This is after research which suggests that the effect of branding is very strong in both the uptake of smoking and reinforcing the continued habit. The plainer the packet also means people are more likely to notice the health warnings. The British American Tobacco company employ many different tactics to draw people into Tobacco use and keep them in its grip.

Just look at their website.

Internet & Gaming Addiction – Professor Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University

Now this talk was right up my street. The speaker (I don’t know whether I can call a Professor ‘Mark’ or ‘Professor’ so I will call him the speaker!) has years of experience studying and researching gambling as well as internet and gaming addiction. He made a lot of sense.

He identified what he calls six components of addiction.

Salience – where the activity is the most important thing in the person’s life

Mood modification Feeling a high or a buzz from playing or on the other hand an escape or numbing, tranquillising effect

Tolerance – Increasing amount needed to achieve the desired mood

Withdrawal – Unpleasant feelings and moods when they can’t play or have not played for a while

Conflict – Their gaming and/or use of the internet causes conflict in their relationships or affects other activities and responsibilities in their lives

Relapse – Returning to previous levels/patterns of gaming  or use

On the definition of what would constitute a gaming or internet addcition it’s a shady area. It could be if it is the most important thing in a person’s life to the detriment of all other areas. If the activity adds to or enhances life then that would be OK but if the activity detracts from life i.e by affecting health, education, work or relationships then addiction is much more likely. He also disputed that the belief that the longer you play a game or use the internet correlates with how addicted someone is. More so that it will be dependent on the person and their life circumstances.

The average age for Internet and gaming ‘addicts’ is maybe surprising ly late 20’s to early 30’s.

Anyway enough of that, I need to get on with the rest of this post so I can play Skyrim.

Food Addictions – Dr Suzanne Higgs

‘Food & drugs have similar effects on brain reward systems’

There are similarities in the brain scans comparing Dopamine levels with obese patients and those addicted to drugs

The Yale Food Addiction questionnaire can be used to ascertain the likelihood of food addictions. You can see it here.

There is no evidence to suggest that certain foods are more addictive than others although high fat and high sugar foods seem to be more of a problem. This may also be down to the sheer amount of marketing that goes into unhealthier products. You only have to go to a supermarket and look at the special offers. The vast majority are for treat foods.

I’m copping out here slightly but I’d made so many notes during the day by the last couple of sessions I’d given up. Oh well at least I’m honest!

No trip to Liverpool is complete without a trip to The Brink so we spent an enjoyable couple of hours there and indulged in some yummy non-alcoholic beverages and food before it was time for me to get the train home.

Hope you enjoyed reading both posts.


Follow me on Twitter @StaceInspire and @InspireHandM


Posted on March 27, 2012, in Blog, Drugs and Alcohol, Friends of Inspire Health and Mind, Liverpool Addictions Conference and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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