Professor Wouter Vanderplasschen of Belgium is a senior researcher in the field of substance abuse treatment and recovery. For the past 15 years, he has been completing research on the accessibility, quality of care and effectiveness in varying forms of substance abuse treatment. This has direct relevance to the current research as the participants will be asked about how accessible they feel treatment organisations are and how helpful treatment has been on their recovery journey. Professor Vanderplasschen has authored over 60 peer-reviewed papers, in which his interests focus around addictions, treatment, recovery and vulnerable groups. Wouter has a high position in academia as he is the reviewer for many international peer-reviewed journals, as well as the co-editor for the journal “Drugs: Education, Prevention, Policy”.
Dr Jessica De Maeyer has been the director of the expertise centre on Quality of Life (E-QUAL) at Ghent University College since 2014. She carries out many different projects assessing Quality of Life in varying populations, including substance users. Dr De Maeyer has been involved in many pieces of research in Belgium that have importance in addictions: she is the co-promoter of “Consensus Building on Minimal Quality Standards for Drug Demand Reduction in Belgium” (COMIQS-BE), and has a 2 year position of co-promotor for Photovoice being used on individuals suffering mental health and substance abuse problems. Importantly, she is a member of various addiction relevant committees: “Recovery of people with dual-diagnosis” and “Pathways to Addiction Recovery”.
Professor Vander Laenen obtained a bachelor in social work (1993), a master (1996) and a doctorate in criminology (2007). Since 2008, she is an associate professor at the Department of Criminology, Penal law and Social Law within the Faculty of Law and Criminology. Her expertise focuses on vulnerable persons (because of substance use, mental illness and social exclusion) in contact with the criminal justice system. Professor Vander Laenen has acquired years of experience in research on drug prevention, substance misuse treatment and harm reduction and on drug policy evaluation. She also participates in different international networks as: Member of the European Society for Social Drug Research (2003-); Member of the European Society of Criminology (2007-); Member of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (2009-); and Member of the EMCDDA expert network on public expenditure in Europe (2013-).
Professor Colman is a senior researcher seconded to the research group “Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy” (IRCP) attached to the Department of Criminology, Criminal law and Social law at Ghent University. Her PhD in Criminology (2014) focused on (turning points) in the recovery and desistance process of offenders who misuse drugs. In 2017, she was granted a FWO postdoctoral fellowship to continue her research on recovery capital in desistance and recovery.
Charlotte Colman has been actively involved in several international, EU and national research projects on amongst others drug policy evaluation, the interplay between recovery and desistance, alternatives to incarceration and the cooperation between the criminal justice system and (drug) treatment services. She has published a broad variety of peer-reviewed publications such as book(s) (chapters) and articles on the abovementioned topics. Furthermore, she has been a member of several expert (policy) meetings at national, European and international level.
Lore Bellaert works as a PhD student for the Belgian branch of the REC-PATH project at Ghent University. In her PhD she will focus on the recovery process of problematic substance use, with a specific interest in natural recovery. In 2017 she graduated as a Master of Educational Sciences – Special Education, Disability Studies and Behavioural Disorders. Her dissertation focused on the experiences of unaccompanied refugee children with regard to the implementation of their rights in a humanitarian aid context. Therefore she conducted research in South Sudanese refugee settlements in northern Uganda, combined with an internship of seven months as a child protection caseworker at an NGO. Furthermore, she has studied Addictology at Charles University in Prague as part of an Erasmus exchange programme.