In 2015, the Norwegian government presented a new action plan addressing substance use and addiction: ‘Prop. 15 S: The action plan for the alcohol and drugs field (2016-2020)’. This plan, which succeeded the white paper to the Storting (parliament) ‘Meld. St. 30 (2011-2012): See me! A comprehensive drug policy: alcohol — drugs — doping’, serves as the current national drugs strategy document. However, the fundamental principles in white paper no 30 (2011-2012), which promoted a comprehensive alcohol and drug policy covering alcohol, illicit drugs, addictive medications and doping, can still be traced in existing policy. The integrated action plan comprises and prioritises activities for prevention, early intervention, treatment and aftercare for individuals with substance abuse problems. The aim is to help individuals to cope with their lives, or achieve the best possible control over the most important aspects of them, with the following five main goals: (i) ensure that individuals at risk of developing a substance use problem are identified and given timely assistance; (ii) ensure genuine user influence through free choice of treatment institution, more user-driven solutions and stronger user involvement in the design of services; (iii) ensure that all individuals have access to diversified, integrated services; (iv) ensure that all individuals lead an active and meaningful life; and (v) develop and increase the use of alternative penal sanctions. The Norwegian drug prevention policy is based on the fundamental principle of the inclusive society. Health promotion and prevention principles are embedded in all areas of society and priority is given to early interventions. This policy manifests as restrictions on alcohol consumption, combatting drugs through prohibition and targeting drug trafficking and organised crime. The national drugs strategy has been supported by other white papers and strategies with a more targeted focus. These include the prevention-focused 2014 public health white paper ‘Coping and opportunities’ and the National Overdose Strategy (2014-17).
Like other European countries, Norway evaluates its drug policy and strategy through ongoing indicator monitoring and specific research projects. A final internal evaluation of the Action Plan for the Drugs and Alcohol Field (2007-12) was completed in 2012. It found that nearly all of the 147 measures outlined in the plan had been undertaken. A programme evaluating the effects of the implementation of the Action Plan for the Alcohol and Drugs Field (2016-20) was set up in 2016.
The Ministry of Health and Care Services is responsible for the strategic and operational coordination of alcohol and drug policy, while each ministry is responsible for the areas falling within its own remit. The Directorate of Health is responsible for the overall day-to-day coordination of alcohol and drug policy and is the government’s primary adviser on health and social affairs matters. It is responsible for coordinating national prevention efforts and ensuring that health and social affairs policies are adopted and implemented in accordance with the Ministry’s guidelines. The municipalities are responsible for drug prevention and care services for drug users. Four regional health authorities are responsible for providing the necessary specialist health services to the population in their regions. Seven regional drug and alcohol competence centres are responsible for carrying out a broad range of activities. Their main tasks are to stimulate the advancement of substance use prevention in the municipalities.