I remember going to my first iCAAD conference in London three years ago and feeling totally overwhelmed. I am Swedish to the core of my being and there were so many people and different ideas to grasp. It probably took me a full day to adapt and then I felt it. The heart of what it was really about – a strong commitment to recovery and helping people. Here was something that I had never encountered before, a platform for everyone interested in addiction and recovery that reached beyond ideologies, nationalities and professions. A international platform with a VERY big heart where it was ok to have different opinions, to ask questions and honestly ask for help.
I have been a professional in the field of addiction in Sweden for over 25 years working with everything from prevention to residential treatment. But never had I been to a conference where so many different experiences and opinions shared the same stage. In Sweden we tend to arrange conferences for specific target groups. The social workers meet with other social workers, the psychiatrists have their own events, the 12 step people meet at their own conventions and the CBT therapists meet their other CBT therapists. And this tradition is working against our efforts to help our clients in the most effective way we can. Our Swedish National guidelines tell us that we need have an integrated approach to addiction and dual diagnosis. But in reality we are stuck with an old fashioned system where lives are lost because of a bureaucratic and artificial separation between body and mind and different funding systems.
At iCAAD I found so much hope that there is another way – a holistic approach – that has been successfully tried in other countries and that we can learn from.
In February of 2018 we arranged the first International iCAAD conference in Stockholm with over 200 delegates listening to experts from Sweden and the rest of the world. People from all over Sweden and Europe came together and shared their experiences and hopes for the future. People came from the public and private sector both meeting with volunteer organisations and people in recovery. We listened, we learned and we shared. And we all promised to do it again.
So it is with an enormous amount of gratitude that I welcome you to the second Swedish iCAAD conference in Stockholm on February 21st. This year’s format is even more about sharing experiences and You as a delegate will be a very big part of that.
I sincerely hope to meet you there.
Anna Sjöström Swedish iCAAD co-ordinator