The harm reduction goals within Norway’s alcohol and drug policy were defined in the 2011-12 white paper ‘See me! A comprehensive drugs and alcohol policy’ and are confirmed in the current national action plan. The aim of harm reduction measures is to improve health and allow people who use substances a more dignified life, including the prevention of harms such as overdoses and drug-related infectious diseases. The national overdose strategy for 2014-17 provided a background to scale up activities to prevent overdose risks and to promote emergency assistance and treatment for drug users. Low-threshold services and harm reduction are further addressed in the National Action Plan for the Alcohol and Drugs Field 2016-20. In November 2018, the government presented a revised national strategy on hepatitis that prioritises the prevention and treatment of the infection among vulnerable groups, including people who inject drugs (PWID). In Norway, the municipalities are responsible for the organisation of harm reduction measures on the basis of local needs. A 2017 national electronic survey among all Norwegian municipalities suggests that around 22 % currently provide syringes to PWID. While cooperation between local public health and social services constitutes the backbone of service provision, private non-profit organisations are important partners for municipalities in the implementation of harm reduction interventions.
Low-threshold facilities offer a broad range of services, such as health checks, vaccinations (including the provision of free hepatitis A and B vaccines), distribution of clean injecting equipment and foil, overdose prevention interventions, nutritional and hygiene guidance, and follow-up and referral to other parts of the health service.
A national survey estimated that 2.9 million syringes were distributed through low-threshold facilities in 2017, the majority being given out in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.
The 14 municipalities with the highest burden of drug-related deaths participated in the implementation of the national overdose strategy 2014-17, introducing overdose prevention programmes funded by dedicated grants from the Directorate of Health. The strategy is currently being re-drafted to be renewed for the period 2019-22, building on successful measures, addressing new challenges and aiming, among other things, to provide all municipalities with naloxone funded by the state. Several municipalities have also adopted local overdose action plans and measures. By the end of 2017, more than 6 300 naloxone kits had been distributed in the participating municipalities.
Two supervised injection rooms were operational in Norway by the end of 2017, in Oslo and Bergen. Since the one in Oslo was established, nearly 330 000 injections have been supervised in the supervised injection room, with no fatalities.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|