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Successful treatment of heroin abusers/The goal is open access to scientific information on the Internet


Successful treatment of heroin abusers

The Kurage Program in Karlstad, Sweden, is a successful program for treating heroin abusers. This is shown in an assessment carried out by the Institute for Quality and Developmental Work, IKU, at Karlstad University.

The Kurage Program is a method of treatment in which heroin abusers receive help in gradually creating a new existence without drugs. The program includes the use of the drug Subutex in combination with well-developed social and psychological support.

"What distinguishes the Kurage Program from other forms of treatment is precisely its fortunate combination of a medical preparation and psychosocial help. Subutex eliminates the craving for the drug and has fewer side effects than other preparations. This provides participants with a "respite" that enables them to set up a functioning daily life," says Bengt G Eriksson, associate professor of social work at Karlstad University and director of IKU.

For two years he and his project assistant Lena Ede have followed a group of young abusers of heroin in Karlstad and their treatment in the Kurage Program. A crucial aspect of the program is for the abusers to receive help in creating a new life in their home community. The results show that the Kurage Program contributes to an improvement of the quality of life among participants. And perhaps even more important: they stick with the program.

"It’s important to remember that this work takes time. What is central is that the participants not drop out of the program but rather stick with it and piece together their existence. This is exactly what the Kurage Program has managed to do," says Lena Ede.

The Kurage Program is a collaborative effort involving the social work services in the municipality of Karlstad and the County Council’s out-patient psychiatry scheme. The assessment is titled "Drug-assisted psychosocial treatment of heroin abuse." Copies (in Swedish) can be ordered from IKU.

The Institute for Quality and Developmental Work, IKU, is a collaborative body set up by Karlstad University and social care authorities in the province of Värmland. The prime mission of the Institute is to develop knowledge to create conditions in which the social work authorities will be better equipped to meet the needs of vulnerable groups in society.

Reports published by IKU in the last year include studies of the input from relatives in the care of the elderly and functionally impaired, a telephone hotline for people in mental crisis, and rehabilitation in care for the elderly and functionally impaired. The researchers have also evaluated a project offering consumer advice in the towns of Hagfors and Munkfors, a group-living home in Karlstad, and a project titled Human Technology dealing with mental functional impairment and aids.

The goal is open access to scientific information on the Internet

The Swedish Research Council now officially stands behind this vision, having signed an international Declaration for Open Access. "Research findings funded by governmental resources must be available to everyone, not only to those who can afford to pay," avers Pär Omling, director general of the Research Council.

A fundamental principle in research is the free exchange of information and maximal dissemination of research findings. Against this background, together with the ever more rapid development of the Internet, the Berlin Declaration was formulated nearly two years ago. Thus far, it has been signed by some fifteen organizations associated with universities and research, most of them European. The Research Council is the second Swedish organization to sign, after the Association of Swedish Higher Education. Signatories pledge to encourage researchers to make their findings readily available on the Internet, to develop methods for the quality assurance of online publishing, and to strive to recognize open publications in assessments and appointments.

More open and faster

Besides the democratic aspect, open access has the advantage of speeding up the publication process. Today it can take years between the completion of the first version of a research article and the publication of a fully vetted version in an academic journal.

However, questions remain: how to deal with the right of researchers to their own texts’ And perhaps most important: how can academic excellence be guaranteed? Today’s system of editing involves a comprehensive process of scrutiny.

Plan of action by fall

The Research Council is now launching efforts to see how it can work practically to promote open access, as a financier. By the fall, ahead of next year’s round of applications for research funding, Director General Pär Omling wants to have a concrete plan of action.

"As financiers, for example, we should be able to change our policy when we look at applicants’ qualifications, while at the same time not jeopardizing the quality of the research. This is a conversation we must have with the research community, in an international context."

Press Office | alfa
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