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Addiction researchers ready for future challenges

27 April 2018

U-FOLD and Uppsala University are now taking the next step in combating dependence on medical and narcotic drugs. “The time has come for us and society to find new approaches,” says Mathias Hallberg, Professor and new Chair of U-FOLD.

In autumn 2011, Uppsala University launched U-FOLD, a forum for research on addiction to medical and narcotic drugs. The aim was to bring together the Uppland region’s researchers, local authorities and other government agencies, and community stakeholders involved in this area of addiction. The initiative met an obvious need: municipalities, county councils and county administrative boards joined almost immediately.

Fred Nyberg
Professor Fred Nyberg

“When we officially launched U-FOLD in the Uppsala University Grand Auditorium, our network had grown to include the Medical Products Agency, Uppsala University Hospital, Upplands Idrotts­förbund (‘Uppland Sports Association’), the National Centre for Knowledge on Men’s Violence Against Women (Nationellt Centrum för Kvinnofrid, NCK), the Swedish Police and various other organisations, each of which individually were performing key roles in the area of ​​addiction. That gave us the common platform required to stimulate cooperation, disseminate relevant knowledge and identify current research and educational needs,” says Fred Nyberg, Professor and former coordinator of the forum.

Today, U-FOLD represents a nationally sought-after resource for tackling one of society’s biggest challenges. The network’s broad support and commitment have made possible a journey that has also inspired stakeholders from other parts of Sweden engaged in the area of addiction.

Mathias Hallberg
Professor Mathias Hallberg

“Since we’ve met U-FOLD’s original goals, we’re ready to write the next chapter in the forum’s history, and we’re currently selecting a management team of experienced researchers. Our aim is to further strengthen U-FOLD’s capacity to plan and take part in training initiatives, seminars and one-day courses, and also to follow and communicate current research in the field,” says Hallberg.

This step is being taken at a time when policy on alcohol, drug, doping and tobacco is facing several urgent challenges: drugs bought online are constantly reaping new deaths, doping is finding new arenas through unmanned gyms and the Swedish gambling market faces comprehensive regulatory change. Ways of becoming addicted are more complex than ever, while the ongoing debate reflects the marked distances that continue to separate research, politics and society.

“The need for a common arena is obvious, and we’re convinced that our regional model still has a lot to contribute at national level. The time has come for both U-FOLD and society to create new approaches to tackling the challenges ahead,” Hallberg says.

On Thursday 3 May 2018 U-FOLD is to host the Spring Seminar: ‘What do we see when the smoke clears? About tobacco, cannabis and smokable heroin’ in the Uppsala University Grand Auditorium. Admission is free of charge to all comers, who are most welcome to join in listening, discussing and sharing inspiration as they mobilise against addiction and substance abuse.