Café Scientifique: "Understanding Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture"

So, as a general rule I don’t blog about work, but rules were made to be broken, right?  I’m running an event through work for the general public and I’m thinking that some of my readers might be interested in attending, so I’m blogging it.

Café Scientifique is a public science initiative that gets scientists together with the general public to talk, in layperson’s terms, about science.   I think the Wikipedia entry on Café Scientifique puts it nicely when they say that Café Scientifique:

“aims to demystify scientific research for the general public and empower non-scientists to more comfortably and accurately assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact on social policy making”

There are a number of different groups running Café Scientifique events in a number of cities. Our particular series of Café Sci events is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and my particular event in that series is called “Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture.”  We have a panel of four researchers who study different aspects of addictions and each of them will present a brief (like, four minute long) introduction to their area of addictions research – and the rest of the event will involve questions, answers, comments and discussion among the audience and the panel members.  It is meant to be an informal event and one that will generate a lot of discussion about this complex topic.

Event Details:

Understanding Addictions: Nature Meets Nurture

February 4, 2009
7 – 9 p.m.
Café Du Soleil
1393 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC (close to Grandview Park)

Note: the event is at Café Du Soleil, not Café Deux Soleils (which is also on Commercial Drive).  Here’s a map.

Addiction is a complex problem that cannot fully be understood from any single perspective. Join us as we try to find common ground to deepen our understanding of the problems of addiction and strategies to address them .

Food and beverages will be provided.


Erin Gibson
Masters student
Interdisciplinary Studies, UVic
Hajera Rostam
Ph.D. student
Counselling Psychology, UBC
Iris Torchalla
Postdoctoral Fellow
BC Centre of Excellence for  Women’s Health
Kristina Uban
Ph.D. student
Behavioural Neuroscience, UBC


Dr. Lorraine Greaves
Executive Director
BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH)

This Café Scientifique event is part of the series Sex, Drugs and the Public: Men, Women & Addiction coordinated by the BCCEWH. This Café is offered in partnership with the Integrated Mentor Program in Addictions Research Training (IMPART)

RSVP to:

  • For more information, please look under “Events” at
  • To check out our Facebook event listing, go here.

If you plan on attending, be sure to RSVP to the email address above and let me know in the comments!

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Comments |2|

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  • This issue fascinated me even before I had much experience partaking of anything that falls into the category of “vice.” Having read extensively, experienced extensively, and also completed a series of court-mandated courses as part of a DUI sentence; it seems to me that the central analytical problem stems from the dynamic and complex relationship between physiology and psychology.

    No competent physician would contend that a heroin addict’s withdrawal symptoms were “all in his/her head.” Yet some remain quick to look at compulsive shopping, overeating, or even gambling as purely psychological phenomena. Likewise, as has become especially clear in treating nicotine addiction, habitual behavior can be difficult to shake even when medicine actually does a good job addressing the most obvious components of a chemical dependence.

    The popularity of a term like “addiction” may recognize the intertwined nature of mind and body, yet it may also cause some to import a bias toward (typically unhelpful) emphasis on one dimension of a case. Perhaps that is weak pontification, but one point about which I’m certain is the horrible consequences of addressing various public health problems with criminal justice “solutions.”

    I do not dispute I deserved to be punished for my own gross irresponsibility in putting other motorists at risk. Yet when it comes to prohibiting private adult consensual choices in the realm of vice, legal penalties only drive taboo activities underground. Secrecy obstructs treatment and shelters abuses from scrutiny. It is hard to imagine a single achievement that would alleviate the harms of addiction as much as replacing punitive vice laws with stringent regulations on vice commerce.


  • You’ve hit on a lot of the things I’m hoping we’ll get into during the discussion at this event. I picked the subtitle “nature meets nurture” as an indication of the, as you so eloquently put it, “intertwined nature of mind and body.” That addiction isn’t just a matter of will-power. Or a morality issue. Biology, society, culture, experience, and how they all interact – it all needs to be considered to understand addictions and to think of ways to deal with addictions. Thank you for sharing!


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