The International Confederation of Addiction Research Associations (ICARA∗) is an international, nongovernmental, multidisciplinary and civil society organization bringing together ATOD societies on a global level to promote, support and enhance ATOD science locally and globally through professional exchange, collaboration and other activities. An ATOD society means a society whose members are mostly scientists, academics, clinicians, or administrators and where the scientific study of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, or behavioral addictions is one core activity.
The Confederation shall be organized and operated exclusively for scientific and educational purposes and shall not be operated for profit.
To help and meet the needs of our members, the ICARA objectives are:
- To facilitate collaboration between ATOD societies and serve as a global forum for exchange of information (e.g., fund raising; relations with government authorities, media, and industry; sponsorship of scientific journals)
- To promote the development of ATOD societies especially in low or middle income countries and in countries with emerging ATOD problems.
- To support the advancement of scientific knowledge concerning the health and social consequences of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as the treatment and prevention of ATOD problems in individuals and society.
- To strengthen scientific integrity and publication ethics in ATOD research.
- To advocate on both national and international levels for the use of scientific evidence in public policy and clinical practice.
Why do we need ICARA?
ICARA means “friends” in Gaelic and also refers to a cushion protecting a woman’s head in one of the languages spoken in Nigeria.
Most professional societies provide similar services to their members (e.g., organize annual meetings, sponsor scientific journals, manage websites, disseminate information), but rarely share “best practices” with their colleagues in other disciplines or countries.
- An international confederation can serve as a forum to share information on how to run meetings, manage finances, operate scientific journals, etc. The confederation can also explore possibilities for sharing speakers or conducting joint meetings.
Basic, clinical and social research has an increasingly important role to play in the shaping of health policies at the national and international levels. This is not always recognised in terms of research funding.
- An international confederation has more weight than individual societies and could serve as an advocate for research funding.
Although ATOD science has become more and more international in its character, important cultural, economic and linguistic barriers to research collaboration and the dissemination of research results still exist.
- An international confederation will provide the forum for research collaboration and dissemination across cultural groups.
The alcohol, gambling and tobacco industries have internationalized their marketing activities, are expanding in developing countries and emerging economies, and often oppose evidence-based policies.
- An international confederation will help ATOD societies to keep abreast of industry developments that affect the integrity of science and the translation of research into practice and policy.
National or regional research societies are much more prevalent in the economically advanced countries (i.e., Europe, North America, Australia), where the scientific infrastructure and the health and welfare systems are relatively well developed.
- An international confederation can play a vital role in supporting the establishment of new research societies in developing countries, and emerging economies.
What will ICARA do?
ICARA will provide:
- a forum for information exchange and mutual support, especially with regard to the very practical matters involved in running a successful research society such as conference organisation, running journals, and establishing scholarships
- information and education opportunities for society members to learn about such things as research integrity, scientific publishing, funding mechanisms, and evidence-based policy
- international cooperation in relation to advocacy for research funding
- a base for inter-organizational collaboration
- mentoring for new society leaders
- nurturing for new societies