Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
School of Business and Social Sciences
The Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research (CRF) is a cross-disciplinary social science research center, which focuses on four core areas: treatment, prevention, policy and consumption. CRF is the only alcohol and drug specialist research center in Denmark and it employs approximately 25 research and administrative staff in Aarhus and an additional 15 staff at its satellite office in Copenhagen.
Although the Center has its origins in the 1980s, it was not until 1991 that it was formally established. During its initial years it relied on soft money research, primarily to conduct evaluation studies particularly on treatment initiatives, but also some prevention efforts. In 2001, as a result of a recommendation from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Danish Budget Bill allocated permanent funding for the Center. This funding has allowed CRF to employ senior researchers, plan longer-term research strategies and foster a framework for the training and education of PhD students within alcohol and drug research. Today the permanent funding allocation comprises 2/3 of the CRF budget, while the last 1/3 still comes from competitive external research funds.
Core Areas of Research
Although the primary focus in treatment research in CRF’s early years was on particularly drug-free treatment, more recently research on medically assisted drug treatment and alcohol treatment research has acquired a more prominent place. Evaluation and research stemming from CRF has had a relatively significant influence on the formulation of Danish treatment policy in the last 10 years. One particularly significant development has been the creation of a national monitoring system known as Danish Registration and Information System, and the Center has been a central player in its development and implementation.
Prevention research undertaken at CRF contains two elements: (i) evaluation and follow-up research and (ii) research into the substance behavior of different risk groups. With regard to specific risk groups, CRF has undertaken special projects on adult children of alcohol misusers and also research on prevention and treatment initiatives among pregnant users. Initiatives on harm reduction have focused on the attitudes and practices of parents towards their children’s alcohol consumption. Projects have also focused on risk management strategies adopted by young people with regard to alcohol and drug use.
Policy, both alcohol and drug policy, is the third important research arena at the Center. Policy is defined as not only control policy in the drug field or regulation policy in the alcohol field, but also as those policy decisions that influence treatment, prevention and consumption. Thus research on policy is wide-ranging and examines how legislation within these arenas is implemented. Studies on policy have been both national and international in scope, with particular reference to other Nordic and EU countries.
CRF not only looks at alcohol and drug consumption from an epidemiological perspective of total and per capita consumption, but also from a sociological or socio-cultural construction approach. For example, one of the first PhD dissertations from CRF was a study of Danish alcohol culture within an historical and cultural perspective. Research examining alcohol and drug users’ own perspectives with respect to alcohol and drug consumption also plays a key role in the center’s research agenda and is an area of research that has been earmarked for future development. While researchers at the Center focusing on research from a user’s perspective would not claim that it is more valid than other kinds of research, they would nevertheless argue that it provides an essential perspective – a perspective often ignored in other research agendas.
Related Tasks at the Center
An additional focus of CRF is the education and training of PhD students and the dissemination of research knowledge through seminars for both national and international students in the social sciences. For example, the Center recently offered a specialist seminar on Cultural Criminology for Ph.D students with international speakers from the UK, the USA and Norway. Since 2007 CRF has joined the administration of a Ph.D program in social science and Ph.D students can complete their entire Ph.D education at CRF. Currently, eight PhD students are enrolled. Several of the students have the opportunity of continuing to work on alcohol and drug related research projects as post-doctoral students or even at the Assistant Professorship level. CRF is also involved with running the first European-wide master’s program in the social sciences of alcohol and drug use.
Finally, a pivotal part of the work of the Center lies in distributing and disseminating research results. It does this both by participating at national and international research conferences as well as ensuring that practitioners in the field are kept abreast of the latest research. To ensure that the latter takes place, CRF hosts an independent magazine, STOF, that spreads knowledge about alcohol and drug related issues. Contributors to the magazine include both researchers and practitioners.