Et ansikt av bladtræer

Better understanding and treatment of substance use and addiction disorders

Section for Clinical Addiction Reserach - RusForsk

Web pages in Norwegian

Section for Clinical Addiction Research - RusForsk​ - is a research section at Oslo University Hospital. Our main objective is the development and improvement of treatment for patients with substance use and addiction disorders. Through close collaboration with the clinical environments at Oslo University Hospital and other health care institutions, we promote high-quality research that benefits the patients. All our projects have user representation.

Our projects

People with substance use and addiction disorders are mainly unemployed, but at the same time work is health-promoting in many ways. The aim of the research project is to examine the feasibility and effect of the employment support method Individual Placement and Support (IPS) for people with substance use disorders. The project contributes to documenting whether IPS is an appropriate method to introduce in substance use and addiction treatment.
"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 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 recruited participants from the IPS services at the Oslo municipal addiction outpatient clinic, Haugenstua resource center and the Tyrili Foundation. 

Recruitment in the study is now completed. 

See project pages on OUS-research

LASSO is a low threshold clinic for Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) for individuals dependent on heroin and other opioids who do not engage with the conventional offerings of Medication-Assisted Rehabilitation (MAR).

From 2010 until 2017, only the combination preparation of buprenorphine and naloxone was available as a medication for OAT at LASSO. As of spring 2017, buprenorphine monopreparation (Subutex Ⓡ) became accessible at LASSO, and from 2020, methadone and the long-acting buprenorphine (Buvidal) became available.

We aim to investigate whether a broader array of medications in low-threshold OAT enhances treatment outcomes and leads to an improvement in the well-being of more individuals with opioid dependence.

LASSO is a collaborative effort between the Agency for Welfare and Social Services (Oslo Municipality), and the Department of Addiction and Substance Abuse Treatment (Oslo University Hospital Health Trust).

See more info about the project (in Norwegian)

See project pages on OUS-research

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

Through analysis 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).

See more info about the project

See project pages on OUS-research

This is a longitudinal research initiative that investigates the impact of prolonged anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) use on brain health, cognition, cardiovascular function and mental well-being. Our primary goal is to advance our comprehension of the enduring repercussions stemming from extended AAS consumption, while also shedding light on the underlying factors contributing to the development of dependence. The project is highly interdisciplinary, involving various hospital, university and international expertise. This collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive grasp of the interplay between endocrine, cardiovascular, and neuroimmunological factors and implications for brain health and dependence. ​

See more info about the project (in Norwegian)

See project pages on OUS-research

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.

See more info about the project (in Norwegian)

See project pages on OUS-research

The Government has decided to initiate a trial project involving heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) as part of medication-assisted rehabilitation (MAR). The trial project is set to run for a duration of 5 years, commencing in 2021 in Oslo and Bergen. The clinical trial's objective is to expand MAR to encompass medical heroin (diacetylmorphine) in either injectable or oral (tablet) form, aimed at treating individuals for whom the standard MAR protocol has not yielded satisfactory outcomes.

The overarching goals of the research project is to assess how HAT, as a novel clinical intervention, can be implemented and integrated within the MAR framework, the clinical outcomes of the treatment, and the potential cost-benefit effects of the initiative.
The study is intended to culminate in an evaluation report with recommendations to the public authorities regarding whether HAT should be continued, expanded, or terminated after the trial period.

The project is led by the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research (SERAF) at the University of Oslo, and run in collaboration with RusForsk (Oslo University Hospital), Bergen Addiction Research (BAR) (Helse Bergen), the Centre for Substance Abuse Research (CRF) at Aarhus University, and the user organization proLAR Nett.
RusForsk will lead the research efforts in sub-studies related to the following thematic areas: 

  • ​Attitudes and experiences regarding HAT among patients, family members, and staff
  • Process evaluation of the implementation of the HAT treatment program

See more info about the project (in Norwegian)

See project pages on OUS-research

The interplay between substance use, health, and use of health care services in people who use drugs

The objective of the AlcoTail study is to investigate the implementation and effects of interventions aimed at reducing alcohol and pharmaceutical drug use among Norwegian patients hospitalized for somatic illnesses, as well as the subsequent impact of such interventions on patients' health and substance use. Additionally, the study aims to assess the health status and investigate treatment and service trajectories for patients with other types of substance use disorders. This study is a collaboration between the Agency for Welfare and Social Services (Oslo Municipality), Oslo University Hospital Health Trust (OUS), Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital (LDS) in Oslo, St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim, and the University of Southeast Norway.
Funded by the Research Council of Norway, the project comprises 5 work packages. Work Packages 1 and 2 focus on surveying patients in the acute medical departments of LDS, OUS, and St. Olav's Hospital for alcohol use, psychoactive pharmaceutical drug use, and illicit substance use before and after the implementation of new substance assessment procedures in the hospitals. Work Package 4 involves conducting qualitative interviews with patients and staff from the same departments, while Work Package 5 aims to conduct cost-benefit analyses related to the new assessment procedures. 
RusForsk is responsible for Work Package 3, which aims to identify treatment and service needs, as well as investigate treatment and service trajectories in specialist and primary healthcare settings for patients using illegal substances.​

Throughout the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), significant concern has been raised regarding both the spread of infection and the development of severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in individuals with severe substance use disorders. There are several reasons for this concern. Many individuals within the substance use community may struggle to adhere to governmental infection prevention guidelines, for various reasons. Additionally, a substantial portion of this population presents with multiple comorbidities that could elevate the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. Moreover, a tenuous connection to healthcare services among these individuals poses the risk of delayed medical intervention for those experiencing a severe progression of COVID-19.

However, remarkably few individuals in this cohort tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the initial wave of infections, despite comprehensive testing efforts within municipal substance use facilities. Those few individuals who did test positive either exhibited mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. Similar observations have been reported internationally.

The primary objectives of this study were to investigate whether these findings stem from the fact that individuals within this cohort:

  1. Had not been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection,
  2. Underwent asymptomatic courses of the illness, thus avoiding testing, or
  3. Had developed immunity against COVID-19 through prior exposure to other viral infections.
  4. Additionally, we aimed to examine the immune responses elicited by vaccines targeting SARS-CoV-2.​

The research project is a collaborative endeavor involving RusForsk (Oslo University Hospital Health Trust), the Agency for Welfare and Social Services (Oslo Municipality), the Department of Immunology and Transfusion Medicine (Oslo University Hospital Health Trust), and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Read more here (pages in Norwegian)

See our publications

See our PhD projects


News in Norwegian

    About RusForsk

    Our employees 
    Espen Ajo Arnevik, PhD
    Section leader
    Phone: +47 412 09 898

    Eline Borger Rognli, PhD
    Researcher and project leader
    Phone: +47 480 52 157
    Astrid Bjørnebekk, Phd
    Researcher and group leader
    Phone: +47 910 04 041
    Jørgen Bramness, PhD, professor
    Senior reseracher
    Tlf: 481 32 975
    Researcher and project leader
    Phone: +47 905 69 834
    Marianne Riksheim Stavseth, PhD
    Phone: +47 922 61 179
    Phone: +47 467 99 669
    Project leader (50%)
    Linn Støme, PhD
    Special counsellor, (35%)
    Tlf: 948 80 825
    Tord Thoresen
    Project coworker
    Tlf: 971 43 683
    Erlend Marius Aas, Ms
    PhD candidate       
    Phone: +47 977 02 171
    PhD candidate
    Phone: +47 973 42 699

    Kristoffer Andersen, Ms
    PhD candidate


    Vegard Haukland
    PhD candidate
    Phone: +48 480 38 471

    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 2018 -2024  

    1. The research section aims to produce research of high international quality on substance use and addiction.

      The section aims to produce research on substance use and addiction based on data collected from patients at Oslo University Hospital. The projects should use a variety of methodological approaches dependent on the research questions, including efficacy studies on clinical interventions, observational studies as well as utilization of clinical- and demographic registers. 

    2. Research projects should benefit the clinical activity.

      The section wants to stimulate a positive attitude towards research in the clinic, so the projects will aim to produce results that are relevant to the clinical practice.

    3. All projects must have user representation.

      Users must be involved in the planning and execution of the research projects, as well as in the communication of the results.

    4. The research section is committed to fostering national and international research collaborations.

      The research projects will be of international high quality. The researchers will collaborate with researchers and clinicians in both mental and somatic health services within and outside OUH.

    5. The research section will be a visible actor and contribute to research dissemination.

      The section aims to be accessible and relevant. In addition to the section’s strategy, a dedicated communication strategy is developed.

    The research at RusForsk shall benefit the patients. Therefore, user representation is a prerequisite in all of RusForsk's projects. User representatives are involved in all phases of RusForsk projects, including planning and implementation, analysis, writing and reviewing, and dissemination fof results.

    Rusforsk also works closely with the User Representatives Council at the Department of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment (Oslo University Hospital), presenting projects and research ideas, opening up for feedback and further collabaration.


    Research group for clinical addiction research - We conduct clinical addiction research in close collaboration with the outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment facilities at Oslo University Hospital. Topics include predictors for treatment outcome and effect of treatment interventions. 

    Group leader: Espen Ajo Arnevik


    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

    The site is managed by RusForsk
    Editor: Espen Ajo Arnevik
    Web editor: Erlend M. Aas
    Front page picture:

    Sist oppdatert 08.01.2024