Better understanding and treatment of substance use and addiction disorders

Rusforsk (English)

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The Section for Clinical Substance Use and Addiction Research - "RusForsk" - has as its main objective the development and improvement of treatment for patients with substance use and addiction disorders. Through projects close collaboration with the clinical environments, we will promote high-quality research that will benefit the patients. All our projects have user participation.

Our projects

Hooked on work

People with substance use and addiction disorders are mainly unemployed, but at the same time work represents a number of health-promoting conditions. The aim of the research project is to examine the feasibility and effect of the employment support method Individual Placement and Support (IPS) on people with current and previous substance use and addiction disorders, so that this group can get better help to get into the open labor marked. Long term, the project will be able to contribute to documenting whether IPS is an appropriate method to introduce in substance use and addiction treatment on a permanent basis.

"Hooked on work" is a multi-method project with an RCT study, an observational study and a qualitative study. The project was initiated by RusForsk, and is implemented in three of the treatment sections (both in- and outpatient clinics) at the Department for Substance use and Addiction Treatment at Oslo University Hospital. The project also recruits participants from the IPS services at the Oslo municipal addiction outpatient clinic, Haugenstua resource center and Tyrilistiftelsen.

Read more here​

Methadone in a low threshold treatment setting 

In the study, we investigate if the introduction of methadone as a medication in a low threshold substitution treatment facility (LASSO) in Oslo will lead to improved results for the opioid dependent patients.

We will evaluate if the inclusion of patients, the full induction on the opioid maintenance treatment (OMT)-medication and the retention in treatment will increase after the introduction of methadone in the LASSO clinic. In the study the results for the patients using methadone and buprenorphine will be compared. 

The study will also include a user survey focusing on background characteristics, why users chose the low-threshold treatment setting and their experience with the OMT-medication and the follow-up by the staff at the low threshold clinic. Finally the study includes a possibility to link the patients to the Norwegian Prescription Registry and the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry after three and five years. The recruitment of the participants is expected to start in the autumn of 2019 and will last for three years.

PriSUD - Diagnosing and treating substance use disorders in prison

The main aim of the project is to improve the health of people with substance use disorders in prison.

Through analyzes of unique register data and collaboration with good research environments and user organizations, the project will map access to adequate substance use treatment in prison, as well as examine the outcome of such treatment. In addition to register data, the project will build on data from a comprehensive survey of drug use and health in prison, the Norwegian Offender Mental Health and Addiction study (NorMA).

Read more here​

Drug use in survivors of overdoses

Effective overdose prevention depends on knowledge of risk factors. We know too little about what distinguishes a fatal overdose from a non-fatal overdose. This project will provide detailed analysis results of drugs, pharmaceuticals and fentanyls among overdose survivors. The purpose is to increase knowledge about what distinguishes the drug use of those who survive overdoses from those who die from overdoses. Inclusion in the project has now ended.

Read more here​

Anabolic steroids and effects on brain and behavior

This is a longitudinal research project that examines the effects of long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids on the brain, cognition and emotions. The purpose of the study is to contribute knowledge about the effects of long-term use of anabolic-androgenic steroids.

INTACT - Integrated trauma and addiction treatment

A high proportion of patients in interdisciplinary specialized drug treatment (TSB) have trauma disorders, but receive little knowledge-based treatment for the trauma disorder. INTACT will investigate a specific treatment method called Eye Movement Desentizitation and Reprocessing, abbreviated EMDR, in the Section of Addiction Outpatient Clinics at Oslo University Hospital. Previous research has shown that EMDR is effective in trauma treatment, but little research has been done on EMDR in people who have concomitant trauma and substance abuse disorders.

Read more here​

Heroin-assisted treatment

The government has decided to implement a pilot project with heroin-assisted treatment (HAB) as part of opioid maintenance treatment (OMT). The trial project has a duration of 5 years, starting in 2021 in Oslo and Bergen. The objective of the clinical trial project is to expand OMT to include medical heroin (diacetylmorphine) in either injectable or oral (tablet) form, which can make it possible to treat people where the standard course in LAR has not led to satisfactory results.

RusForsk will lead the work in the partial studies related to the following thematic areas:

  • ​Attitudes and experiences of HAB among patients, relatives and employees
  • Process evaluation of the implementation of the treatment program HAB

Read more here

Prevalence and symptom picture of covid-19 in people who use drugs in Oslo during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic 

​Through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (SARS-CoV-2), there has been great concern about both the spread of infection and the development of severe coronavirus disease (covid-19) in people with severe substance abuse problems.

During the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection, unexpectedly few people in this group were diagnosed. This is despite extensive testing of people in municipal drug institutions, even with mild symptoms. The few who were diagnosed with infection had only mild or no symptoms of the disease. Similar experiences from abroad are reported.

The purpose of the study is to investigate whether this is due to people in this group:

1. Has not been exposed to SARS-CoV2,

2. Have asymptomatic course of the disease and therefore have not been tested, or

3. Has developed immunity to covid-19 through infection with other viral diseases in the past.

Read more here

About RusForsk


Our employees
Espen Ajo Arnevik, PhD​​
Section leader
Tlf: 412 09 898
Eline Borger Rognli, PhD
Researcher and project leader
Tlf: 480 52 157
Astrid Bjørnebekk, Phd
Researcher and group leader
Tlf: 910 04 041
Anne Bukten, PhD
Researcher and project leader (20%)
Tlf: 932 91 421
Linda Elise Couëssurel Wüsthoff, PhD
Researcher and project leader
Tlf: 905 69 834
Marianne Riksheim Stavseth, PhD
Tlf: 922 61 179
Rune Ellefsen, PhD
Tlf: 467 99 669
Eli Kristine Fiksdal Abel, PhD
Project leader (50%)
Ingeborg Skjervø, PhD
Postdoc (50%)
Tlf: 415 53 842
Nicoline Lokdam, Ms
Tlf: +45 256 67 992
Erlend Marius Aas, Ms
Tlf: 977 02 171
Morgan Scarth, Ms
Tlf: 973 42 699
Ann Kristin Selmer
IPS employment specialist
Tlf: 920 13 212
Cecilia Vu
IPS employment specialist
Tlf: 41 40 79 02
Amarpreet "Shilo" Stamnes
IPS employment specialist
Tlf: 918 69 980
Thomas Edholm
IPS employment specialist
950 15 121
Hans Christian Bordado Henriksen
Tlf: 966 47 924
Franziska Rothe, Ms
Research assistant
Tlf: 979 25 518

Vision and strategy

RusForsk's vision is "Better understanding and treatment of substance abuse and addiction disorders".

This means that our main goal is to contribute with increased knowledge and understanding of substance use and addiction disorders, as well as to develop and improve treatment for patients. RusForsk will stimulate and create high-quality research that can be published in international peer-reviewed journals, and have projects that receive external funding. The research section will collaborate with both and external partners.

Main strategic goals 2022 – 2024:

1. RusForsk will produce substance use and addiction research of high international quality.

2. Research projects must benefit the clinical operation.

3. All projects must have user participation.

4. The research section shall contribute to national and international research collaboration.

5. The research section must be a clear actor and contribute to research dissemination.

User participation

The research at RusForsk shall benefit the patients. Therefore, user participation is a prerequisite in all of RusForsk's projects. User representatives are involved in the planning and implementation of research projects, as well as in the dissemination of results.

Research is a fixed topic in the meetings of the Department of Substance Use and Addiction Treatments (ARA) user representatives’ council. Here RusForsk presents projects and ideas, and opens up to input and feedback. 

Research groups


​Research group TSB - We aim to conduct clinical addiction research in close collaboration with the clinical addiction treatment facilities at Oslo University Hospital. This includes addressing issues such as patient characteristics that are relevant to treatment outcome and the effect of different treatment interventions. 

Group leader: Eline Borger Rognli

Research Group for Anabolic Androgenic Steroids - looks at effects anabolic steroids have on brain function, medical and mental health, and how the treatment offer for this group can be improved. The group consists of six people with professional backgrounds in neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology and medicine. The aim of the research is to contribute to increased knowledge about the effects steroid use can have on men and women, barriers users have against seeking treatment for steroid-related health problems, and to improve the treatment offer for steroid users. 

Group leader: Astrid Bjørnebekk​

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