Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
The Department’s primary responsibility is to coordinate and conduct research and health analyses related to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use (ATOD).
This includes the study of use patterns and cultures, drug markets, as well as the norms and attitudes towards substance use. One of the Department’s central tasks is to monitor and examine ATOD use over time, and across individual characteristics and social conditions. In collaboration with Statistics Norway, we conduct a general population survey on ATOD use every year. Together with more than 40 European countries, we conduct an ATOD school survey every four years (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs, ESPAD). The Department is also the national Focal Point for the EU Drug Monitoring Center (European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA).
Our researchers have expertise in the study of individual and environmental factors related to substance use initiation and use trajectories, including the development of problem use. To strengthen the knowledgebase, we have initiated a school-based longitudinal survey -- Monitoring Young Lifestyles (The MyLife) study -- that aims to examine ATOD use onset, changes, and transitions in a prospective sample of middle-school students.
Research on use cultures is another central topic. Here we examine the following questions: “What are the characteristics associated with use of various substances?”; “What are the primary motives for substance use?”; “What function does substance use play in individual lives?”, etc. In this line of work, we primarily use qualitative data such as interviews, observation, text analysis, etc. Further, the study of ATOD markets, including supply and demand for both legal and illegal substances is central to the Department’s core tasks. To this end, we primarily use data from surveys and administrative registries.
Our research and health analytics on the consequences of ATOD use primarily focus on social consequences of own use, and on the third-party and societal consequences broadly defined. For example, the consequences and costs of ATOD use in the workplace are important questions related to the third-party harms. Thus, understanding the full societal extent of such consequences is imperative for effective prioritization of public resources. Other key research topics revolve around addiction and self-regulation strategies, and include long term follow-up studies of illicit drug users and associated consequences such as overdose. The empirical approaches in this domain are complex and include analysis of data from school and population surveys, administrative registries, and qualitative studies.
The NIPH is tasked with generating knowledge contributing to good practice in performance of public health, and health and care services. The department has overall responsibility for research on structural measures that can prevent or limit ATOD use and related harms, primarily pricing and accessibility regulations. The department actively contributes to the research on ATOD-related political processes, as well as to the research on design, implementation, and effects of various prevention strategies and their public legitimacy.
Our research results are disseminated through scientific publications in international journals and national reports; popular science outlets; and lectures, writings, and appearances in various media. Target audience consists of policymakers, researchers and health professionals, students, and other interested parties. The department also actively contributes to coordination of professional meetings and presentations on substance use at NIPH.
Researchers have background in various social sciences and health disciplines, including statistics.