Norway Country Drug Report 2019

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

In 2015, the Norwegian government presented a new action plan addressing substance use and addictions: ‘Prop. 15 S: The Action Plan for the Alcohol and Drugs Field (2016-20)’. This plan, which succeeded white paper no 30 (2011-12), serves as the current national drugs strategy document; it has retained the fundamental principles, which promoted a comprehensive alcohol and drug policy covering alcohol, illicit drugs, addictive medications and doping. The integrated action plan comprises and prioritises activities for prevention, early intervention, treatment and aftercare for individuals with substance abuse problems. It has 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 an inclusive society. Health promotion and prevention principles are regarded as key elements of this, and priority is given to early interventions. This policy includes restrictions on alcohol consumption, combating 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 National Action Plan for the Alcohol and Drugs Field (2007-12) was completed in 2012. It found that nearly all of the 147 measures outlined in the plan had been undertaken. In 2018, a process evaluation of Norway's National Overdose Strategy 2014-17 was completed. A process and outcomes evaluation of the Action Plan for the Alcohol and Drugs Field (2016-20) is being undertaken between 2017 and 2021.


National coordination mechanisms

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 healthcare 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.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.