Two new grants for CEACG research

Starting September 2012 the CEACG will receive three year Academy funding for a project that compares Italian and Finnish adolescents’ alcohol drinking images. Prime investigator is Anu Katainen.

A new project that begins at the same time concerns how addicted online role gamers experience deviancy in terms of spatial, temporal and corporeal dimensions. The aim is to develope a framework for a social geography of addictions. Prime investigator is Matilda Hellman.


A Colloquium at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Helsinki, May 23-25 2012

The “Eating: Comparative Perspectives”  -symposium is organized by Professor Alan Warde as part of the Jane and Aatos Erkko Professorship activities. The symposium takes place on 23-25 May at HCAS. Please find the programme of the symposium below.
Background: The social science of food and eating remains very fragmented and is much stronger in its understanding of production than consumption. Recent developments in food studies have been driven less by the logic of theoretical inquiry than by a mission to respond to public crises and anxieties —physical, social and moral, symbolic, and economic. Eating is a matter that concerns everybody; in most instances a mundane and repetitive activity, it fulfils a range of social functions which far transcend the satisfaction of physiological need. This colloquium will take stock of the current state of social scientific knowledge about eating, with particular emphasis on sociological analysis. It seeks to explore the potential for new developments in theory and theoretical approaches, with a view to making better sense of the now considerable amount of primary research data on eating patterns. In particular it will focus on the way that the use of comparative methodologies might contribute to theoretical advances. Papers will draw upon comparisons of various kinds and levels – between historical periods, countries, regions, classes, ethnic groups, etc..

How such studies might be brought to bear upon different traditions of theory and whether comparative analysis might support new research programmes in the sociology of eating will be explored.

Provisional Programme (subject to change)

Venue: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Fabianinkatu 24, except public lecture which will be held in the lecture hall 12 of the University main building, Fabianinkatu 33.

New dissertation on harm reduction measures in Finnish drug treatment

CEACG co-worker M.Soc.Sci. Riikka Perälä defends an etnographic study regards the harm reduction techniques applied in the Finnish drug treatment system in the 2000s.

The implementation of a drug policy based on the harm reduction ideology was started in Finland at the turn of the millennium, in addition to the restrictive drug policy implemented traditionally. The first health conseling service for injecting drug users, based on the harm reduction approach, was opened in the capital region in 1997. The start of the activities was a response to the social and health authorities’ concern in Finland in the 1990s, especially about the spread of bloodborne contagious diseases, HIV and hepatitis, related to injecting drug use. What was new and exceptional about the activities of the health counseling services was that they were particularly aimed at active drug users. In order to come and receive services there, the users did not have to commit themselves to stopping drug use, nor even to present any plans on those lines.

The results of the research show that health counseling services and the harm reduction policy implemented in them have become a significant part of the everyday lives of many problem drug users. At the services, the users receive help and support that is not available elsewhere in society. Both the employees and the visiting clients consider the work in the services more extensive than the agenda of the traditional harm reduction policy: for instance, elements of social and healthcare work play an essential part in the work done at the service, and the services also have a clear connection to the activities elsewhere in the service system. The services have also managed to create new kinds of ways to deal with the drug problem which the clients as well as the employees endorse. The harm reduction policy implemented in Finland is therefore a positive example of significantly increasing the social confidence of a population group that is socially quite excluded, and often even “demonized”, by working methods that listen to them and activate them. This should also be considered in future when planning similar interventions. However, the relationship of the health counseling activities to their environment has tensions, and the authorities, for example, often have a narrow perception of the activity as the exchange of syringes and needles. This, in turn, complicates the successful inclusion of the innovative procedures dominant in the policy into practices of the Finnish drug policy and treatment.

On a theoretical level, the research goes over a research discourse on the forms of social governance typical today. In this respect, the research enriches the recent analyses of governing by highlighting examples of the possibilites of opposition to governance as well as of the new forms of collective action and solidarity available in the prevalent ways of governance.

The defense act will take place on the 23rd of March in the Main Building of University of Helsinki, at the Assebly Hall at 12 pm.

Opponent: Docent Kerstin Stenius, University of Stockholm/THL,
Custos (chair): proffessor Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen.

New journal issue of NAD1/2012

Thematic issue on different treatment of beverage types in Nordic and Canadian alcohol policy history can be downloaded here.

Contributions by: Øyvind Horverak, Hildigunnur Ólafsdóttir, Esa Österberg, Matilda Hellman & Thomas Karlsson, Norman Giesbrecht et al.

Professor in sociological alcohol and drug research

Professor in sociological alcohol and drug research Centre for social research on alcohol and drugs (SoRAD), Stockholm University. Ref.No. 611-3342-11. Application deadline: April 12, 2012.

Topic Description
At SoRAD, alcohol and drugs are studied from various social science perspectives. The research is presently divided into three themes. Theme 1: Consumption, problems and norms. The general aim is to study levels and patterns of alcohol and drug use and their association with various related problems and the role of alcohol and drugs in people’s lives. Theme 2: Alcohol and drug policy and its implications includes studies on how substance use is perceived and defined, how policy measures are designed and implemented, and what kinds of concrete and specific effects particular alcohol and drug policies have. Theme 3: Addiction and dependence – societal reactions, treatment and recovery processes. The general aim of research within this theme is to study societal definitions of and reactions to various forms of addiction, and how these have changed with changing societal conditions, to analyze the overall help system from a historical and social-ecological perspective, and to study recovery and change processes that take place outside the help system.

Tobacco, doping, prescription drugs and gambling can also be included in the research area.

The successful applicant is primarily expected to take a leading role in alcohol and drug research from sociological perspectives. The job includes teaching and supervision of doctoral students as well as dissemination of research results to the surrounding society.

See link: SoRAD

Anna Leppo’s PhD defence: ’Precarious Pregnancies – Alcohol, drugs and the regulation of risks’

Anna Leppo defends her PhD thesis on February 10 2012 at 12 pm at the University of Helsinki main building (Fabianinkatu 33), lecture room 5.

Since the 1970s alcohol and drug use by pregnant women has become a target of political, professional and personal concern. The present study focuses on prenatal substance use and the regulation of risks by examining different kinds of societal responses to prenatal alcohol and drug use. The study analyses face-to-face encounters between professionals and service users at a specialised maternity clinic for pregnant women with substance abuse problems, medical and political discourses on the compulsory treatment of pregnant women as a means of FAS prevention and official recommendations on alcohol intake during pregnancy. Moreover, the study addresses the womens’ perspective by asking how women who have used illicit drugs during pregnancy perceive and rank the dangers linked to drug use. The study consists of five empirical sub-studies and a summary article. Sub-study I was written in collaboration with Dorte Hecksher and Sub-study IV with Riikka Perälä.

Theoretically the study builds on the one hand, on the socio-cultural approach to the selection and perception of risks and on the other on governmentality studies which focus on the use of power in contemporary Western societies. The study is based on an ethnographic approach and makes use of the principles of multi-sited ethnography. The empirical sub-studies are based on three different types of qualitative data: ethnographic field notes from a maternity clinic from a period of 7 months, documentary material (medical journals, political documents, health education materials, government reports) and 3) interviews from maternity clinics with clients and members of staff.

The study demonstrates that the logic of the regulation of prenatal alcohol use in Finland is characterised by the rise of the foetus , a process in which the urgency of protecting the foetus has gradually gained a more prominent role in the discourses on alcohol-related foetal damage. An increasing unwillingness to accept any kinds of risks when foetal health is at stake is manifested in the public debate on the compulsory treatment of pregnant women with alcohol problems and in the health authorities decision to advise pregnant women to refrain from alcohol use during pregnancy (Sub-studies I and II). Secondly, the study suggests that maternity care professionals have an ambivalent role in their mundane encounters with their pregnant clients: on the one hand professionals focus on the well-being of the foetus, but on the other, they need to take into account the women s needs and agency. The professionals daily encounters with their clients are thus characterised by hybridisation: the simultaneous use of technologies of domination and technologies of agency (Sub-studies III and IV). Finally, the study draws attention to the women s understanding of the risks of illicit drug during pregnancy, and shows that the women s understanding of risk differs from the bio-medical view. The study suggests that when drug-using pregnant women seek professional help they can feel that their moral worth is threatened by professionals negative attitudes which can make service-use challenging.

AUTUMN 2012: What Is The Added Value Of The Concept of Addiction


The Colloquium of the University of Helsinki Centre for Research on Addiction, Control and Governance (CEACG) arranges a Thematic Meeting of the Kettil Bruun Society

Addiction: What Is The Added Value Of The Concept Today?

Convention Hotel Majvik, Helsinki, Finland

14‐17th October, 2012


Addiction is a concept that has relatively recently – within two or three decades – become a common expression that covers no longer only traditional substance use but a wide and growing range of behaviours like gambling, gaming, internet use, even eating disorders, shopping, shoplifting, sexual behaviour and others. The increasingly widespread use has been observed in the public media, in expert discourses, in popular culture, in the world of commercials, and even in everyday talk. The concept of addiction is being introduced in the international classifications of diseases, and addiction is the topic of many research and prevention programmes today.

There is no consistent and commonly agreed neurobiological theory of addiction, although recent brain research has made great progress in identifying some of the mechanisms that make people behave in a way that they recognize as harmful and would rather want to stop. There are well‐known similarities in the brain functions concerning the satisfaction of rather different types of desires, but the evidence is far from convincing to prove that from a biological point of view harmful repetitious behaviours could be lumped together as a singular disorder.

The issue is further complicated when we account for cultural factors. Addiction can be said to be caused from culture in the sense that addicted behaviours are transformations of culturally modified desires. We do not call dependence on proper nutrition, clean air and water an addiction unless their object is a pleasure that results from cultural practices, like preparing food, raising endorphine levels by physical exercise, or getting intoxicated in one way or another.

A third complication arises from the fact that treating excessive behaviours as a syndrome of an underlying disorder individualises the problem and medicalises societal reactions to it. This is why public health experts were cautious of the concept “combined approach” when it was part of the World Health Organization discourse on drugs, tobacco and alcohol in the 1970s, while at the same time recognizing the need to include alcohol in the policy agenda on illicit drugs and psycho‐pharmaceuticals. Instead of paying attention to the supply side, policies framed as prevention of addictions focus on identifying high‐risk individuals and preventing their harmful behaviour.

Also the conditions of prevention and treatment are very different concerning different types of behaviour. Preventing obesity involves measures that are very different from those that arise in substance use prevention, for example. The most extensive body of research exists for alcohol and alcohol dependence. The next large research area will most likely concern gaming, especially gambling. In this developing area the lessons learned from alcohol studies are particularly relevant, because we need new understanding of the pathways from non‐problem use to problems and addiction. Alcohol research experience is of great methodological and theoretical help in this area. Also the policy issues are relatively similar, with wide public and private economic interests involved in both the alcohol trade and in the gambling business. Moral and philosophical issues are also similar, concerning individual freedom of choice and the public good.


The Colloquium and Thematic meeting provides a platform for discussing the usefulness of framing consumption risks as addictions, or even as different aspects of a singular phenomenon. Critical and careful analysis of evidence, reflexion on the moral and practical implications of the concept in different contexts, and the way forward need to be given a proper and free space of interchange between different points of view. It might be envisioned that some sort of consensus emerges that could be useful for policy‐makers, but this CFP is not foreseeing that as necessary.

Size and structure of the meeting

We aim to attract about 30 – 40 interested experts from several fields to participate and papers will be pre‐circulated. We aim to keep the number of presentations moderate, hoping that participants will read as many papers as possible in advance of the occasion. Presentations will be organised in sessions of 1,5 hours with two or maximum three papers per session, chair and a discussant will be assigned to each session.

Time and venue

The meeting will start on Sunday evening October 14th and last until dinner on Wednesday October

17th. The venue will be the Majvik Conference Hotel near Helsinki.


The conference will be organized by the University of Helsinki Centre for Research on Addictions,

Control and Governance (CEACG) in collaboration with the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, The Kettil Bruun Society, The Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies and the National Institute of Public Health.

Programme Committee:

Pekka Sulkunen, chair (CEACG, University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)

Franca Beccaria (KBS President, Eclectica, Turin)

Matilda Hellman (CEACG, University of Helsinki)

Anja Koski-Jannes (University of Tampere)

Tomi Lintonen (The Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies)

Mikko Salmela (University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies)

Kerstin Stenius (National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki)


Conference fee and registration

Conference fee for early birds is 300 euros payable before 30.6.2012

Conference fee (regular) is 400 euros payable 01.07‐16.09.2012.

The conference fee covers meals, the conference tour and dinner, and conference services.

Accommodation in the conference Hotel Majvik (Helsinki/Kirkkonummi, Finland) will be reserved by participants and paid directly to the hotel. Single room in Majvik is 103 euros/night and double room 83 euros/night/person (breakfast included). Detailed information will be issued together with the letter of acceptance of the registration. Room reservations are guaranteed by the hotel until 28.9.2012. All participants should make their own reservations with a credit card directly to the hotel or by phone +358 9 295 511.

Majvik is on the shore of Espoonlahti, only 25 kilometres from downtown Helsinki, Finland. More about Majvik:

Limited amount of support for conference fees and travel is available for researchers who otherwise would not be able to participate. Requests should be submitted together with the abstract and registration.



16.04.2012        Registration and abstract submission (
01.05.2012        Letter of acceptance of the registration
30.06.2012        Payment of early bird registration fee 300 euros
15.09.2012        Paper submissions deadline
16.09.2012        Payment of regular registration fee 400 euros
16.09.2012        Free cancellation ends

The Mexican drug war and sex addiction on the big screen

The chaotic ongoing war on drugs in Mexico is portrayed in the new film “Miss Bala”, directed by Gerardo Naranjo. NY Time’s review describes:

“The film’s foreboding is a reflection of the national mood as Mexico enters the sixth year of the government’s frontal assault on drug traffickers. Estimates put the death toll around 50,000 since 2006, and the murders pile up relentlessly. What feeds despair here more than the daily violence, though, is the suspicion that nobody in charge has the ability, the will or the integrity to defeat the criminals and the corruption that supports them. The anxiety that anyone can become a victim guides “Miss Bala.””

Read the review here.

Another topical movie, “Shame”, directed by Steve McQueen, portrayes a struggle with sex addiction by a man in New York. Time Out describes‘Shame’ as “interested in the stark immediacy of one man’s world and drawing us into that world without easy explanations. It’s a work that feels, both for our times and of them”

Read the whole review here.

The mental health and substance use treatment services department looking for researcher

Mielenterveys ja päihdepalvelut -osasto (MIPO) hakee Vaasaan tai Helsinkiin tutkijaa määräaikaiseen työsuhteeseen. Tehtävä täytetään sopimuksen mukaan mahdollisimman pian 18 kuukauden ajaksi.

Tehtävänä on toimia EU:n tutkimusohjelman rahoittaman REFINEMENT-hankkeen kansallisena koordinaattorina, toteuttaa eurooppalaisen hankkeen kokonaisarvioinnin ja osallistua eurooppalaiseen yhteistyöhön mielenterveyspalvelujen rahoitusmallien kehittämiseksi. Tehtävän sijoituspaikka on Vaasa tai Helsinki.

Työn tärkein tehtävä on mielenterveyspalvelujen asiakaspolkujen mallintaminen, simulointi ja analysointi tilastomenetelmin ja visuaalisesti (esim MagnaView-ohjelmalla) perustuen yksilötason reksiteridataan. Työtehtäviin kuuluu sosiaali- ja terveydenhuollon käyttöä käsittelevien rekisteriaineistojen ja muiden kvantitiivisten aineistojen analysointi ja raportointi EU:n tasolla, sekä kansainvälisten tieteellisten julkaisujen valmistelu ja viimeistely.Tehtävä edellyttää perehtyneisyyttä tilastolliseen SAS-ohjelmaan. Tutkija vastaa hankkeen arvioinnin suunnittelusta ja toteutuksesta. Tutkija osallistuu myös MIPOn muuhun asiantuntijatyöhön.


KBS 2012 Stavanger CfP

The Kettil Bruun Society’s Annual Symposium is held in Stavanger in 2012.

It is hosted by University of Stavanger – UiS, International research Institute – IRIS, Alcohol and Drug Research- KORFOR, Rogaland A-senter – RAS and Stavanger Universitetssykehus.

The primary purpose of the symposium is to provide a forum where researchers involved in studies on alcohol can exchange ideas about their ongoing research.

The Symposium focuses on the discussion of papers that are pre-circulated electronically at this website. Papers are presented in 10-minute segments, followed by comments from the discussant and general audience participation. Any person who submits a paper may be asked to be a discussant or chair of a session.

The annual meeting in June now stands as a junction for several projects and ad hoc convents. The meeting in Stavanger in June 2012 will be the 38th of this kind, following the meeting in Lausanne 2010 and Melbourne in 2011.

Pre-symposium workshops and special meetings will be held on Saturday June 2, and Sunday June 3. Information about workshops will be posted as soon as the program is ready.
Both the Pre-symposium workshops and the symposium sessions will be held at the University of Stavanger –

Key dates:
Dec 10: Application for travel support closes
Jan 10: Early bird registration closes
Feb 1: Call for abstract closes
April 1: Registration closes
May 1: Submission of papers closes
June 4-8: Conference

It is now possible to sign up for the conference