Drug-related deaths: A new project allows voices of the bereaved to be heard
23 Oct 2018
The world's largest research project focusing on the support offered to bereaved after drug-related deaths has been launched in Norway. Among other things, the aim is to ensure that the bereaved relatives and close friends of the deceased receive the right kind of support in the future. The project was presented at the Nordic Alcohol and Drug Researchers’ Assembly (NADRA) in Oslo 29-31 August.
The research project “Drug Related Death Bereavement and Recovery” (“Etterlatte ved narkotikarelatert død,” or the END Project) was launched in November 2017 at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in Norway. It is the largest and most comprehensive research project on the subject ever conducted anywhere in the world. The focus is on bereaved after drug-related deaths, and the goal is to recruit bereaved individuals as participants in the project. The project leader is Professor Kari Dyregrov, who has spent 25 years researching grief and the bereaved of those who die of unnatural deaths.
“Over fifteen years ago, Landsforbundet mot stoffmisbruk asked me if I could conduct a study on the bereaved after drug-related deaths, but at the time I was unable to do so. When I later received my professorship at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, there was a need for research in this area, because hardly any larger studies on the subject have been conducted”.
In Norway there are between 250 and 300 drug-related deaths annually. Despite the national overdose strategy, this number has failed to decline. Just like accidents, suicides and other sudden deaths, these are unnatural deaths, and as such they are stigmatised.
“When a loved one dies from drug-related causes, it’s a devastating and stigmatising death. The bereaved are already worn down, and drug users are stigmatised. I’ve done a lot of research on suicide, and I remember one father of a drug-related suicide who said: ‘He didn’t just kill himself – he was also an addict. We’re doubly stigmatised’”.
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