The EWODOR’s Symposium Back in Rome

On 22 and 23 September, EWODOR’s XVI Symposium will be focused on “the therapeutic community model, a tool for empowerment” – article by Maurizio Coletti


After the last Symposium, held two years ago in Dublin and addressing the general theme of gender and diversity in the field of residential treatment, and after over a quarter of a century since the last symposium held in the Eternal City, researchers and clinicians working in the field of addiction will be meeting in Rome again, under the aegis of the  European Workshop on Drug Oriented Research, EWODOR.

Ewodor arose spontaneously from a group of researchers, clinicians and academics focusing mainly on the framework of residential programmes and the original and new challenges, that the therapeutic communities submit to the addiction treatment.

Although Ewodor’s Symposia are thematic, discussion groups are organised, that address different topics, which vary from Symposium to Symposium.

They have been held almost all over Europe, ranging from Belgium to Holland, Scotland, Greece, Sweden, Spain and Cyprus.

The format is that of an open and in-depth dialogue on different topics, that enables to exchange information resulting from researches and clinical practice.

Besides organising the Symposia every two years, Ewodor runs an active mailing list (, under the responsibility of Rowdy Yates, researcher and lecturer at the University of Stirling (Scotland), that provides a large amount of useful information on the network traditional research areas and about the scientific production by the major specialized magazines.

Yates work closely with the EFTC (European Federation of Therapeutic Communities) network co-ordinator, Eric Broekaert, from the University of Ghent (Belgium) and with Vera Segraeus, researcher and professor at the University of Uppsala (Sweden).

All Symposia are organised by a sponsor operating in the selected European country, who defines the organisational conditions, spread the information and takes part to the works of the Scientific Committee.

Garbagnate (Dianova Italy)

The Symposium 2016, as already mentioned, will be held in Rome and the sponsor of Ewodor will be Dianova Italy, strongly supported by Dianova International. Dianova, which was established in Italy in 1984, is renown as one of the most relevant treatment network for difficult users and is acknowledged by the Italian social healthcare system for its performances in reception, charge-taking and residential treatment.

This year’s theme will be empowerment, seen as a valuable and relevant target for residential treatment.

Since about fifteen years the scientific discussion on addictions has been flooded with assumptions on their genetic and neuro-scientific origin, and treatments run the risk to be almost only pharmacological, but researchers and clinicians referring to Ewodor believe that individuals, not seen as artificially isolated monads, but as singles interacting with the surrounding social micro and macro context, play a central role. In this regard, the idea of “brain disease” leads to a simplification that could result in the attentions being shifted away from the individuals, their history and their relationships with the environment.

The knowledge and the genetic and physiological contributory causes play for certain a role of unquestionable importance, however, we strongly believe that individuals are the very main characters in the choice-making, as well in determining the success of the treatment, seen also as a social and interpersonal environment, where suitable tools are available, to foster a multidimensional and developmental learning process.

This applies as a combination of factors that can help explaining the reasons why individuals resort to drug use and abuse and carry on doing it. Moreover, it is of use also to determine the treatment base. The relationships, that the individuals turning to a Therapeutic Community (TC) establish with the other guests and the operators are the very base of the treatment success.

In this regard, the staff shall focus on ensuring suitable conditions for people to find the means to achieve personal empowerment, also with the support of the other guests in the Therapeutic Community.

At the Ewodor’s Symposium in Rome we will portray the empowerment concept, empowerment inside the TC, analysing methods, strategies, results and consequences; furthermore, we will also emphasize factors such as age, gender, family and legal situation.

We will show surveys and qualitative and quantitative researches, as well as updated reports on strategies implemented in other countries and theoretical contributions of historical, philosophical and social nature related to the Symposium topics.

The Symposium is intended for university professors, researchers, PhD students and professionals operating in the field of addiction. The Symposium will be followed and documented by Redattore Sociale, a press agency devoting to social distress and commitment in Italy and all over the world.