Norway: Six organizations send clear message to health minister
10.10.2023 - In a collective plea to Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol, organizations Actis, RIO, Wayback, Marborg, Ivareta, and A-larm demand strengthened aftercare in the upcoming prevention and treatment reform.
The timing of this demand is not coincidental. The government has promised to present a prevention and treatment reform in early 2024, which must contain specific measures to ensure improved aftercare for those who have completed treatment or served their sentences. Inger Lise Hansen, Secretary-General of Actis, states, "The support following treatment or imprisonment is currently too weak, resulting in many struggling to remain drug-free. In the worst cases, this leads to overdose. We expect the minister to allocate sufficient funds in the state budget to strengthen aftercare in the upcoming reform."
A Historic Opportunity
Hansen points out that the Parliament adopted several of these demands back in 2018. Interestingly, Ingvild Kjerkol was among the representatives who supported the majority-approved proposal. "She now has the chance to implement the changes she once proposed, turning her dedication into action. Aftercare has been neglected for years, but the government now has a historic opportunity to amend this. Ingvild Kjerkol could become the health minister who ensures we have effective aftercare," says Inger Lise Hansen.
The Key Demands Include:
Definition of Aftercare: A clear definition of what aftercare should encompass, including requirements for secure housing, meaningful activities, job training, financial/debt counseling, regular contact with the welfare agency (NAV), and measures for networking.
Legal Establishment: Aftercare should be legally established and serve as a distinct part of the patient's journey in mental health and addiction care.
Clear Deadlines: National patient pathways should be expanded to include specific deadlines for securing housing, meaningful activities, job training, financial/debt counseling, low-threshold conversation offers, permanent contact persons, and networking measures.
Integrated Aftercare: Providers of multidisciplinary specialized addiction treatment should take more responsibility for follow-up after treatment.
Diversified Housing: Suitable housing should be available before discharge from treatment or imprisonment. Efforts should be made to reduce evictions and limit the use of temporary housing options.
Unified Voice of Six Organizations
Inger Lise Hansen believes that when six organizations, each with different approaches to the addiction field, unanimously stress that aftercare is a human right, they should be heeded. The path to a fulfilling life post-treatment or imprisonment lies in meaningful activities, secure housing, a social network, job and housing training, and financial support.
"The demands in our letter represent the absolute minimum the health minister must ensure in the prevention and treatment reform," Hansen declares. "Without stronger, more targeted post-treatment support, any treatment undertaken might simply be wasted."