Drugs, Alcohol, Women, & Families (DAWF) 2018 was created by Sharon Greenwood, Sarah Fox and Joyce Nicholson, three PhD students professionally committed to helping improve the lives of women and families affected by their own, or someone else’s substance use. The theme for this conference came about after meeting at various substance use related conferences. At more general conferences on addiction and substance use, there tends to be a heteronormative, ‘malecentric’ focus, where a ‘substance user’ often refers to a male person. Whilst these studies and discussions at events are typically well orchestrated, interesting and thought-provoking, it is important to note that there is also room for making the ‘invisible’ groups in these areas – such as women and families – visible. This conference creates space for researchers and practitioners to share these common interests to come together, and discuss good practice.
As all organisers are in the process of completing their PhD, the addition of an Early Career and PhD symposium was decided as it introduces a platform to those conducting research in this area. While various early career and PhD symposiums are informative and provide an opportunity to meet others researching similar areas, a focus on specific topics such as research methodology and methods, ethics in research and researching vulnerable individuals is difficult to find at various events. Sharing experiences and swapping ‘tips’ for researching women and families affected by substance use helps create a new community of researchers in the field of addiction.