University of Auckland Winter Lecture Series 2019

Hosted by the Centre for Addiction Research, the 2019 series of six lunchtime lectures was themed 'Addiction: The Changing World of Dangerous Consumptions'.

The 2019 Winter Lectures have now concluded

About the Winter Lecture Series

The Winter Lecture Series is an annual set of six public lectures hosted by the University of Auckland. Each year, the lectures consider topical issues across New Zealand and internationally.

The lectures took place in the University's Fale Pasifika on Wednesdays from 3 July, 12.30-1.30pm. 

The lectures were free to attend and no registration was required.

About this year's theme – 'Addiction'

Addictions can have an adverse health effect on individuals involved, and a range of negative impacts on their families and the community, with disproportionately greater impact on Māori. Many individuals experience multiple addictions, as well as mental health issues, and there are often common elements in approaches to treatment and desired outcomes.

The titles of these lectures may seem provocative, and they are designed to be. The topics covered are based on issues people frequently ask to discuss and address. As with many areas of mental health, people can be reluctant to discuss addiction – this lecture series provides an opportunity for informed debate to address the ‘elephant in the room’.

No one is immune from addiction;

It affects people of all ages, races, classes, and

Lecture 1 | Evidence-based alcohol policy: yeah right!

Wednesday 3 July

Dr Nicki Jackson, PhD

Honorary Academic, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Alcohol use is a wicked problem, causing significant social, health and financial harm to individuals and society. In the current context of increasing hazardous drinking, evidence-based policies are urgently required to curb the harm from our drinking culture. However, alcohol policies remain unpopular even in the presence of an abundance of national, high-quality evidence and public support.

This presentation will showcase the policy arguments favoured by the industry versus public health bodies and suggest areas of action to enhance political will.

Lecture 2 | Pokies fund my kindy: New Zealand’s reliance on gambling

Wednesday 10 July

Professor Peter Adams, PhD

Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

A quarter of community sector funding in New Zealand comes from gambling; this includes many of our schools, charities, sports organisations, cultural activities and health services. But, as our community organisations grow increasingly dependent on this source, we need to ask whether the good they achieve should rely on a source that promotes harm in the same communities. As much as a half of the money from pokies comes from people affected by either problem gambling or other forms of gambling-related harm. Community organisations are caught up in either not speaking out about the negative sides of gambling or actually becoming advocates for gambling consumption.

This presentation will present the case for questioning the relationship between gambling and the funding of community activities and discuss a range of options for reducing this reliance.

Lecture 3 | Lock them up and throw away the key? The addicted offender

Wednesday 24 July

Dr Katey Thom, PhD, MA (Distinction), BA (Hons)

Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Associate Professor Khylee Quince, BA/LLB (Hons)

School of Law, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Aotearoa New Zealand has a rising and costly prison population complicated by the fact that 91% of prisoners have been diagnosed with either a mental health or substance use disorder within their lifetime. We have also witnessed the mass incarceration of Māori, where in some communities imprisonment has been described as part of life for some whānau. Many offenders have also been subject to victimisation, making it difficult to clearly separate victims from offenders, yet as a society we continue to take punitive approaches.

Initiatives like Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua (The Alcohol and Other Drug Court) see addiction addressed with the consideration of social needs and meaningfully incorporated of tikanga. This can lead to positive impacts on the wellbeing of offenders, their whānau and the wider community.

This lecture challenges the common conceptions of the ‘addicted offender’ and outlines a positive visualisation for how we might better approach the inextricable link between addiction and criminality. It will also consider the potential power of Māori-led community based solutions, drug law reform and shifts in police practices that could well improve the wellbeing and safety of our society.  

Lecture 4 | Leaping into the unknown: the use of new psychoactive substances in New Zealand

Wednesday 31 July

Professor Janie Sheridan, PhD, FRPharmS, RegPharmNZ, BPharm(Hons), BA

School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Psychoactive substances are drugs which have an effect on our thoughts, mood and how we behave. Humans have used substances to alter perception for thousands of years; alcohol is a popular example. But while psychoactive substance use can give rise to pleasurable effects, their use can also lead to negative health and social outcomes. In the 2000s, new psychoactive substances (NPSs) became available in an unregulated manner. Public and government concern led eventually to new laws being passed to ban these substances, but as each substance was banned, a new one would rapidly emerge onto the market.

Fast forward to 2019 and in New Zealand, despite NPSs being illegal, many products are still available. There is concern about their availability, what is in them, the negative effects they have and how to manage the impact of their use, and the New Zealand Government policy has noted the need for a ‘drug early warning system’.

This presentation will track the history of NPSs in New Zealand, New Zealand’s attempts at unique regulatory responses, and provide thoughts on how we can respond to and monitor the emergence and use of these substances.

Lecture 5 | Could psychedelic drugs be used to treat addictions?

Wednesday 7 August

Associate Professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, PhD

School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin are some of the most interesting drugs known to man given their ability to change high-level thought processes. In the years following the discovery of the psychoactive properties of LSD, it was a widely investigated psychiatric drug showing promising results in the treatment of addictions such as alcoholism. With the prohibition of LSD in the 1960s with concerns regarding its illegal recreational use research into the medical uses of psychedelic drugs stopped. In recent years this research has begun again.

In this talk the history of psychedelic drug use and the most recent wave of psychedelic research into addictions will be discussed.

Lecture 6 | Less is more. What we know about older adults' drinking

Wednesday 14 August

Dr David Newcombe, PhD, BA (Hons), BA

Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Dr Andy Towers, PhD, MA, BA (Hons)

School of Health Sciences, Massey University

Most New Zealanders drink alcohol, but research indicates that many drink above what are considered to be 'safe limits'. Drinking above these limits can have a serious impact on long-term health, and is implicated in events such as injuries and road traffic accidents. Traditionally, there has been a focus on younger people drinking, but more recently drinking in older age has come under the spotlight. As we age, we are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions which can be worsened by drinking alcohol, and to be taking medicines which interact badly with alcohol. In addition, our body's ability to 'process' alcohol is reduced, and this can result in higher blood alcohol levels for the same amount of alcohol consumed. All of this means that drinking in older age can be much more hazardous than drinking when we were younger.

Presenters of this lecture are part of a research team that has been exploring the prevalence of drinking in older adults in New Zealand and overseas. They’ll be sharing some of those findings, as well as providing information on how drinking in older age negatively affects our physical and mental health and our relationships.  

About the Centre for Addiction Research

The Centre for Addiction Research brings together the most diverse group of addiction researchers in New Zealand, from the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, psychopharmacology, pharmacology, public health, sociology and epidemiology. Members are dedicated to exploring the causes, patterns and impact of addictive consumptions, as well as ways of reducing associated harms, and identifying and evaluating interventions through exploration of the effects of dangerous consumptions on the body, the individual, communities and society.

The Centre of Addiction Research was established in late 2012 as a focal point for faculty research into addictive consumptions.