“Addiction is still taboo in our society”

The 41st fdr+addiction+congress in Frankfurt am Main revolves around the subject of digitization in addiction work. Prof. Dr. Regina Kostrzewa, IUBH professor of social work, is the academic director of the congress. She talks about the background and aims of the event in this interview.


You are responsible for the academic leadership of the 41st fdr+addiction+congress. How relevant is the topic of addiction in society?

Prof. Dr. Regina Kostrzeva: Addiction has been recognised as a disease since 1968, and yet it still remains taboo after more than 50 years. We try to counteract this discrimination with the Fachverband Drogen- und Suchthilfe e.V. (fdr) through, among other things, regular specialist congresses.

The social relevance of the topic of addiction can be represented well with some numbers. The most researched and socially relevant area is alcohol: 1.3 million people in Germany are dependent on alcohol, and up to 2.6 million children grow up in alcoholic families. Of course, there are many more areas of addiction such as tobacco, medicines, illegal drugs, as well as the internet and media. In March 2018, I published a brochure on “Pathological Media and Internet Use” with the fdr, which showed that 1-2% of the adult population and around 5% of adolescents are internet dependent.

What is the thematic focus on the 41st fdr+addiction+congress?

Kostrzeva: The congress revolves around the impact of digitization on addiction work – in a positive as well as a critical sense. The aim of the congress is to use the opportunities and possibilities of digitization for addiction work, such as, for example with relapse apps. My “Drug Research” symposium presents current studies such as “Gamification – Ways to Increase the Motivation for Change in People with Problematic Substance Use”. In addition, three seminars are held in addiction care facilities in Frankfurt as a so-called “on-site congress”. These seminars are especially exciting for our IUBH social work students who have been given the opportunity to attend the congress.

What can IUBH students learn from the congress for their practical social work? Is the subject of addiction and prevention also anchored in their degree programme?

Kostrzeva: Some of our dual studies students are active in addiction-assistance facilities and can apply the insights they have gained directly in their practical work. Others are interested in the congress because of the topic of prevention, for example in the field of youth welfare.

In the IUBH Dual Studies Social Work programme The topic of addiction is not covered in a separate module but is included as a cross-sectional topic wherever it makes sense. In the psychology module, for example, I teach it under the topic of mental illness as well as in the context of psychological developmental during puberty. In the methods and instruments module, I approach it methodically by teaching diagnostic tools. The topic of motivational interviewing is also taught and used as a successful method, especially for at-risk adolescents. Last but not least, I also consider the subject of addiction in terms of prevention for our IUBH students themselves, as substance and media consumption is often high at their age.

Further information on the 41st fdr+addiction+congress and the programme is available here.


Prof. Dr. Regina Kostrzewa teaches at the IUBH Bremen campus. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Fachverbands Drogen- und Suchthilfe e.V. (fdr) and has participated in various publications on addiction, including the memorandum “Understanding and Overcoming the Stigma of Addictions” on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health.

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