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Knowledge, Values, and Needle Exchange Programs in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2017 (English)In: Contemporary Drug Problems, ISSN 0091-4509, E-ISSN 2163-1808, Vol. 44, no 2, p. 105-124Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since the turn of the millennium, calls for evidence-based drug policy have become increasingly louder. In response, researchers have generated a large body of evidence in support of measures such as needle exchange programs (NEPs), while another strand of research testifies that policy makers often neglect to take the research evidence into account and hence fail to introduce these programs. This article studies the interplay between research-based knowledge, values, and policy making during 16 years of intense parliamentary debate in Sweden on the needle exchange issue. In 2000, the future of the two existing experimental NEPs was uncertain; in 2006, the regulations were reformed; and in 2015, they underwent a government inquiry. Both the reform and the inquiry aimed at regulating and expanding the programs. The analysis is guided by work done within the tradition of science-policy nexus, where the increased emphasis on evidence-based political measures is problematized. As drug policy arouses normative and ethical concerns, the analysis also explores values. The study illustrates the central role that values play in a policy field which is repeatedly declared to be science based. Within the overall framework of the Swedish drug policy ideology of a drug-free society, the advocates of NEPs framed drug misuse as a consequence of either an unjust society or a disease, arguing that because misuse is a condition beyond the control of the individual, the Swedish welfare state has an obligation to take care of those affected. For their part, the opponents framed drug misuse as a result of misguided attitudes, which would only be corrected by restrictions and prohibition. In their view, NEPs are a tool for drug policy liberalization. In the debate between the two positions, research evidence played only a minor role.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 44, no 2, p. 105-124
Keywords [en]
drug-related harm, harm reduction, medicalization, needle and syringe programs, policy, qualitative research
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-150268DOI: 10.1177/0091450917700143OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-150268DiVA, id: diva2:1166252
Projects
Mellan politik och byråkrati: vård och behandling av narkotikamissbrukare 2001–2015
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2014-0786Available from: 2017-12-14 Created: 2017-12-14 Last updated: 2017-12-18Bibliographically approved

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