I am in Florida, attending a conference being held by the Research Society on Alcoholism. It’s the largest annual international conference on alcohol, and my first introduction to the world of American research in my field. Day one started in an enormous ballroom set up as a lecture theatre, with over 2,000 seats laid out to hear one speaker at a time. The day continued with plenary sessions, and smaller symposia, then for those not involved in those there are poster sessions, which are like academic bazaars, where researchers try to attract the attention of attendees and persuade them their research is important. It’s a bit of a bun fight to be honest, but how else do you get so much information across in such a short space of time?
Here’s the poster I presented RSA 2013 final poster. It tries to answer why some women with alcohol problems have their kids taken away from them, whereas other women with alcohol problems do not, and the findings are pretty shocking. Women whose kids are removed are much more likely to be unemployed, in unstable housing and without a partner. They have more children, and they have them younger. They have higher rates of psychiatric illness and suicide attempts. 87% of them have experienced current or historic domestic violence, and 23% of them were in care themselves as children. Perhaps if we could find a way to tackle some of the things in these women’s lives, they might cope better with motherhood, and their children be less at risk. There must be a way to look after the mothers AND the children, rather than having to choose between the mothers OR the children.